Paper Wasps

Native paper wasps are smaller than the European Wasp, and lack their vivid yellow markings. They tend to only be aggressive when defending their nests, and are otherwise beneficial insects to have around the garden.Waspy


Paper wasps have a small head, with medium sized eyes and medium length antennae. The body is slender, with a very narrow waist and the length is about 1-1.5cm. There are two pairs of brown-tinted wings, with the first pair larger. The abdomen has some yellow/orange bands, but is mainly black.

Habitat and Biology

Paper wasps form small colonies, and make paper nests under tree branches and the eaves of houses. The nests are shaped like inverted cones, and consist of a cluster of hexagonal cells made from wood fibre mixed with saliva. The wasp larvae are maggot-like and develop inside the papery cells of the nest. The adult wasps catch caterpillars to feed the larvae, but the adults themselves feed on nectar.


These wasps can deliver painful stings, but are not as aggressive as the European Wasp. They normally only attack humans if their nest is disturbed. If stings are multiple, a more severe systemic reaction may occur.

In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction, but this is relatively uncommon. Effective treatment is available, which involves known bee/ant/wasp sting allergy sufferers carrying a special kit when outdoors. Immunotherapy or desensitisation therapy is also available, and can reduce the severity of the allergy. Seven deaths over a twenty-year period attributed to wasp stings have been recorded in Australia, mainly among known allergy sufferers who were not carrying their preventative medicine with them.

First Aid

A cold pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, medical attention should be sought immediately.

WARNING: DO NOT attempt to eradicate a wasp nest yourself, unless you have protective equipment and professional knowledge is essential in the circumstances. If you see a European wasp on your property you may attempt carefully to find the nest in your locality.