Aussies stunned by 'nightmare inducing' growth in backyard shed

An expert has explained what causes the European wasp 'monster nests'.

A pest control professional has shared a striking image of “by far the largest” wasp nest he has ever seen taking over a wooden backyard shed.

Rick said it took a “ton of courage” and multiple chemical sprays to remove the “absolutely huge” growth protruding from what appears to be a former chicken coop in Dixons Creek in Victoria last week.

Shocked by the sheer size of the European wasp nest, he posted the image on a specialised Facebook group on Friday.

The large European wasp nest in the wooden backyard shed.
Rick said the European wasp nest was the largest he had ever seen. Source: Rick Shaw/Facebook

“As a professional pest control operator I get to play with our nasty friends often. This nest was by far the largest I have seen to date,” he said.

The European wasp — otherwise known as Vespula germanica — is a non-native pest that was first found in Australia in 1959. They have been recorded in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. They are known to be more aggressive than bees and can sting more than once, causing a burning pain and swelling.

There have been seven recorded deaths attributed to the wasp’s stings but they were mainly amongst known allergy sufferers, according to the Australian Museum.

Warm weather leads to European wasp 'supercolonies'

Animal toxins expert Dr Sam Robinson told Yahoo News Australia he had heard of “similar monster nests” popping up in New Zealand — where they are also an introduced pest — when the weather doesn’t get cold enough for them to die off naturally each winter, like they do in their native Europe.

“The nests can overwinter for multiple years turning into supercolonies like the one pictured,” he said.

“Apart from the obvious direct threat that these wasps pose to humans (I would not want to be in the vicinity of this nest), they have a profound impact on their local ecosystem, reducing populations of other insects by directly preying on them.”

European wasps swarm leaving underground nest. Source: Getty Images)
European wasps swarm leaving underground nest. Source: Getty Images)

Dr Robinson explained the wasps also compete with other animals like birds for food sources such as nectar.

“In short, not great to have around and definitely something that we as Australians should be trying to eliminate,” he said, adding that Australia’s thousands of species of native wasps, in comparison, play a “key role” in keeping the ecosystems functioning and “are great for our gardens”.

Aussies react to 'nightmare inducing' photo

Some Aussies online described Rick’s photo of the “crazy big nest” as “nightmare inducing”.

One person said their family years ago found a large European wasp nest under their house in Tasmania.

“When we finally found where it was and the exterminator had done his job, the nest filled a whole old double wardrobe we’d stored down there,” they said. “There were thousands and thousands of dead wasps. It was like something from a horror movie.”

The large European wasp nest found in an abandoned home in Victoria in 2022.
In 2022, another pest controller found a large European wasp nest in an abandoned home in Victoria. Source: TikTok

Tips to discourage European wasps

  • Do not leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around the yard

  • Avoid leaving uneaten pet food or dog bones outside

  • Make sure rubbish bins have tight fitting lids

  • Keep compost covered at all times

  • Keep swimming pools covered when not in use

  • Cover exposed food at picnics and barbecues

  • Don't drink out of cans or bottles, use clear containers or a straw

Source: Victoria's Department of Health

To report a European wasp nest, contact eWasp.

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