Paper Wasps Nabbed in Quarantine Sting
18 November 2004
Quarantine Officers in Darwin turned the tables on two angry paper wasps this week when the insects flew at them from a container of steel pipes.
Intent on putting the sting on the officers, the pair was quickly dispatched with a knock-down spray and the container resealed pending fumigation.
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) entomologist Graham Brown identified the wasps as a type of paper wasp not found in the Territory.
“These wasps are in the same category as European wasp and could be dangerous to people,” he said.
Paper wasp stings — especially multiple stings — can be life-threatening to people who are allergic to the venom. It has been reported that hundreds of people in the United States die each year from allergic reactions to the venom of these insects, which are more dangerous and unpredictable than bees.
“It’s likely these wasps could establish here if they had not been picked up by Quarantine inspection,” Graham said.
AQIS regional manager Brian Read says: “The quick action of our officers in evading the angry wasps, capturing them and resealing the container proves again the benefit of Quarantine intervention in checking imported goods.
“If this swarm had escaped, the consequences could have been serious for the Territory. Exotic insects such as these can out-compete native insects for habitat and food sources, and wasps in particular can have a nasty effect if they sting people, particularly those who are sensitive to the venom.”
17 Jul 2006