The European paper wasp (Polistes dominula) and the German wasp or yellow-jacket (Vespula germanica) have found the Cape metro and Boland area to be ideal habitats suited for their expansion. However, given their invasive nature, concern has arisen that, if these wasps are left uncontrolled, they may spread to the majority of towns in the Western Cape and other provinces, where the climate is even more suited to their dominion.
Both species are listed as NEMBA (National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act) Category 1b invasive species which require control by means of an invasive species management programme.
The City of Cape Town and the Stellenbosch Municipality have put in place dedicated teams trained in invasive wasp control and will therefore be equipped to address the issue of the spread of these invasive wasps.
‘I am confident that our qualified teams, who are trained in invasive wasp control, will manage the current situation effectively in order to prevent these wasps from spreading further across the metro. The wasps are currently most active in the east region of the city including areas such as Somerset West, Kuilsriver and Kraaifontein,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.
According to international cases of invasion involving both species, these insects have the potential to create problems ranging from being a nuisance to serious economic impacts in the wine, deciduous fruit and beekeeping industries.
It is known that the German wasp in particular, is aggressive and there are several reported cases of them stinging workers harvesting grapes and other fruits. They can also present a hazard to people and homeowners enjoying the outdoors and who may unintentionally disturb a colony. They are also known to attack and kill honeybees and infiltrate bee hives, which is detrimental to the honey industry.
‘We urge all residents to take note and to report sightings of an increase of these wasps at their homes or businesses. In this way residents will be assisting the city in determining which areas to focus on and preventing the potential nuisance and impacts these wasps might have on our city,’ said Councillor Van Der Merwe.
Residents requiring assistance with the removal of these wasps can visit www.capetowninvasives.org.za/edrr/target-list to report any nests that they have found. Further information about invasive species and their impact can be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ctinvasives (with a Cape Town focus).
The European paper wasp
The European paper wasp is a medium-sized wasp (20mm to 35mm) with wavy yellow and black markings on the abdomen and orange antennae. The wasp builds papery nests in wall cavities, under roof eaves and any gaps they can find.
The German wasp
The German wasp is also a medium-sized wasp (15 mm to 40 mm) with yellow and black markings on the abdomen, but it has black antennae. A record of 750 000 wasps were recorded on a farm in Somerset West in 2002. The German wasp is aggressive, especially if the nest or surrounding areas are disturbed. This wasp nests in the ground.