Legend:

Good
Bad

Get to know the Redback Spider

(Latrodectus hasselti)

Redback Spider

Appearance

  • Female Redback spiders are black (sometimes brownish) with an obvious orange/red stripe on the upper abdomen.
  • The males’ red markings are often less distinct. The body is light brown with white markings on the upper side of the abdomen.
  • Juveniles have additional white markings on the abdomen. Females have a body about the size of a large pea with slender legs.
  •  Size range 10 mm (female); 3 mm – 4 mm (male)

Life cycle

  • Once the female has mated, she can store sperm and use it over a period of up to two years to lay several batches of eggs.
  • She spends much time producing up to ten round egg sacs (1cm diameter), which are white, changing to brown over time.
  • Each egg sac contains approximately 250 eggs. Only 1-3 weeks need to pass before more eggs can be laid. These sacs are suspended within the web.
  • The young spiderlings hatch in 2-4 weeks.
  • Spiderlings are cannibalistic and will eat unhatched eggs and other spiderlings.
  • The spiderlings scatter by ballooning to another suitable nest site on long silk threads that are caught by air/the wind.
  • Females mature in about four months. Females may live for 2-3 years, whereas males only live for about 6-7 months.
  • The smaller male matures in about 90 days.

Habitat

  • Redback spiders are found Australia-wide and will live almost anywhere as long as there is enough food, a sheltered web site and is warm enough for breeding. They are especially common in urban areas.
  • The Redback spider favours close proximity to human habitation, with webs being built in dry, sheltered sites, such as among rocks, in logs, shrubs, junk-piles, sheds, pot plants or toilets.
  • Redback spiders are less common in the winter months.
  • Redback Spiders eat other insects but have been known to capture larger animals, such as male trapdoor spiders, king crickets and small lizards, if they become entangled in the web.

Good – The Redback spider is beneficial to the environment as they control the numbers of other pests such as cockroaches, earwigs and millipedes.

Danger to humans and first aid

Although they are beneficial to the environment, Redback bites occur frequently to humans, particularly over the summer months. However, since Redback spiders rarely leave their webs, humans are not likely to be bitten unless the web is disturbed. More than 250 cases receive antivenom each year, with several milder bites probably going unreported. Only the female bite is dangerous.
Common early symptoms are pain (which can become severe), sweating (including local sweating at bite site), muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting. Antivenom is available. No deaths have occurred since its introduction.
Apply an ice pack to the bitten area to relieve pain. Do not apply a pressure bandage (venom movement is slow and pressure worsens pain). Collect the spider for positive identification. Seek medical attention.

Get to know the Daddy-long-legs Spider

(Pholcus phalangioides)

Daddy-long-legs Spider

Appearance

  • Daddy-long-legs spiders are well-known for their extremely long, skinny legs and small body. They are cream to pale brown in colour. Some species have darker markings on their legs and abdomen.
  • Body Length for a male is 16mm, Female body length is 20mm to 50mm.

Life cycle

  • The male spiders reach the reproduction age in one year and usually die after mating, the female can live for about 3 years.
  • Daddy long-legs spiders’ cam breed throughout the year.
  • Female lays about 20 to 30 eggs, which are clumped together with a few strands of silk. The mother then carries this clumped mass of eggs in between her jaw.
  • The eggs are attached to the web. It takes about 2 – 3 weeks for the eggs to hatch, and the young spiderlings are also carried by their mother in between her jaw. The spiderlings have to go through a series of molts, during which they shed their skin, after several moltings, they finally reach adulthood. They leave their mother when they master the skill of catching preys.

Habitat

  • The Daddy-long-legs spider is found throughout Australia. It is a cosmopolitan species that originates from Europe and was introduced accidently into Australia.
  • Daddy-long-legs spiders are found in most urban areas, in particular houses. They make a thin, tangled web in sheltered positions were they are unlikely to be disturbed, such as under furniture, behind doors, in the corner of the ceilings, in sheds, in garages and under decks. Its successful use of these human-made structures has made it one of the most common spiders in Australia.
  • If the Daddy-long-legs Spider is disturbed in the web it responds by setting up a very fast, spinning motion, becoming a blur to anyone watching.

Good – The Daddy-long-legs spider is beneficial to the environment as they control the numbers of other pests such as cockroaches, silverfish and earwigs.

Danger to humans and first aid

There is a belief that the Daddy-long-legs Spider has the most toxic venom of all spiders, however, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. The myth probably grew from observations that the Daddy-long-legs spider will kill and eat a Redback Spider. However, the venom is not actually that potent, even for insects.

The Daddy long legs is not considered harmful to humans. However, in the unlikely event of a bite, a positive identification of the spider by an expert should be made and medical attention sought if any reaction persists for more than a short time.

Get to know the Wolf Spider

(Lycosa sp)

Wolf Spider

Appearance

  • There are many species of Wolf Spider, ranging in size. Their body colours are typically dull, with most having variegated patterns in brown and yellow, grey, black and white; some inland species are a bright salmon pink below.
  • Often the patterns include distinguished lines on the front of the body and scroll-like patterns on the abdomen.
  • The spider’s underside is light grey, cream or black, sometimes salmon pink, often with black or white markings.
  • Wolf spiders have eight eyes in three rows (4,2,2), with the four smaller eyes in front and the four largest arranged in a square on top of the head.
  • Two of the commonest Australian species are Lycosa godeffroyi and Lycosa leuckartii.
  • Size range 1 cm – 8 cm.

Life cycle

  • The male wolf spider attracts the female by waving its pedipalps (are the two appendages on the front of a spider’s head) and front legs in the air. As long as these signals are carried out correctly, the female does not regard the male as being the next potential meal.
  • After mating, the female produces a silk mat into which she deposits around 100 eggs. The silk is then rolled into a protective ball which she then attaches to her abdomen and proceeds to carry it around with her until the eggs hatch.
  • After hatching, the babies crawl onto the mother’s back and remain there until their fat reserves have been used up and they need to start finding their own food. This process may take several months.
    Male wolf spiders probably don’t live more than a year, but females of some species can live for several years.

Habitat

  • Wolf Spiders are found throughout Australia. They are strong, agile hunters that live on the ground in leaf litter or burrows. They are often found in lawns and gardens.
  • Most Wolf spiders are wanderers but some build burrows, either open or with a trapdoor, while others may make temporary retreats in vegetation.
  • According to the Queensland Museum, two Wolf spider species are known to be predators of cane toads. Lycosa lapidosa will take small toads and frogs while L. obscuroides has been noted to biting and killing a large toad within one hour.

Good – The Wolf spider is beneficial to the environment as they control numbers of other pests such as cockroaches, earwigs and millipedes.

Danger to humans and first aid

If bitten by a Wolf spider, symptoms of a bite are usually minor, restricted to local pain or itchiness. Less commonly, symptoms can include swelling, prolonged pain, dizziness, rapid pulse and nausea.
Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

Get to know the White-tailed Spider

(Lampona cylindrata)

White-tailed Spider

Appearance

  • White-tailed spiders have a dark reddish to grey, long-shaped body and dark orange-brown banded legs.
  • The grey abdomen has two pairs of faint white spots (less distinct in adults) with a white spot at the tip; the male has a hard, narrow plate on the front of the abdomen.
  • A dense brush like tuft of hairs on the ends of their legs allow them to walk easily on smooth or sloping surfaces.
  • Size range, Males 12 mm and Females 18 mm.

Life cycle

  • The White-tailed spider makes temporary silk retreats and spin disc-shaped egg sacs, each containing up to 90 eggs.
  • On hatching, the little spiders scatter to find their first meal.
  • Life span of White-tailed spider is about 1 year.

Habitat

  • White-tailed spiders are wondering hunters that live beneath bark and rocks, in leaf litter, logs and detritus in bush, gardens and houses.
  • They are most active at night when they wander about hunting for other spiders, their preferred food.
  • During summer and autumn White-tailed Spiders are often seen in and around houses where they find both shelter and plenty of their favoured black house spider prey.

Good – The White-tailed spider is beneficial to the environment as they control numbers of other spider species.

Danger to humans and first aid

White-tailed Spider bites can cause initial burning pain followed by swelling and itchiness at the bitten area. Occasionally, there are unconfirmed reports of weals, blistering or local ulceration.
A debate continues about the involvement of White-tailed Spider bite in cases of severe ulcerative skin lesions seen in patients diagnosed as probable spider bite victims. Typically, in such cases no direct evidence of spider bite is available. The available evidence suggests that skin ulceration is not a common outcome of White-tailed Spider bite.
If systems persist or worsen, seek medical attention.

Get to know the European Honey Bee

(Apis mellifera)

Honey bee

Click here for images of Bee Swarms & Hives

Appearance

  • European honey bees are one of the most identifiable insects and are the most commonly domesticated bee species in the world.
  • They are inconsistent in colour but are usually brown with a banded dull yellow and brown abdomen.
  • The head, thorax and abdomen are heavily covered in hair. Around the eyes and legs and are also hairy.
  • Adults grow to approximately 1.3 cm – 1.6 cm in length.

Life cycle

  • The queen is larger than the workers and male drones. The queen is responsible for egg laying and for controlling the hive using pheromones Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows).
  • Eggs hatch and develop into queens, workers and drones between 16 – 24 days.
  • The average lifespan of a queen is 3 – 4 years.
  • Drones usually die upon mating or are expelled from the hive before the winter.
  • Workers may live for a few weeks in the summer and several months in areas with an extended winter.

Habitat

  • The European honey bee is common around suburban and urban areas. They are often seen in gardens. European honey bees can be found foraging on the flowers of many different native and introduced plant species.
  • These extremely social insects live in large hives dominated by a single queen.

Good – The European honey bee pollinates flowers in order to make honey. Early European settlers introduced European honey bees to ensure a good supply of honey.

Danger to humans and first aid

European honey bees defend their nest aggressively. If a bee is driven to sting, the action is fatal as it rips out the bee’s lower abdomen. The sting, with the venom gland pumping, is left in the victim.
The European honey bee sting causes intense local pain and swelling. If the victim is allergic to bee venom, a sting may cause more severe symptoms and they should seek immediate medical attention.

If you find a swarm/hive of European honey bees, do not approach it. Contact your local Beekeepers’ Association, see link below.

Beekeepers’ Associations – Australia

Note: The use of honey based baiting systems for European wasps is illegal in all States and Territories of Australia.

Get to know the German Cockroach

(Blatella germanica)

German Cockroach

Appearance

  • The German Cock roach can be found world-wide.
  • German cockroaches are easily identified by 2 dark stripes on their pronotum (a prominent plate-like structure that covers all or part of the thorax of some insects).

Life cycle

  • Females carry 35 – 40 eggs in an egg case until they are ready to hatch.
  • Eggs hatch in 1 month.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) take between 6 weeks to 12 weeks to develop into adults and live up to 6 months to develop into adults.
  • Adults grow to approximately 12 – 15mm in length.
  • Generally there will be 3-4 generations per year.

Habitat

  • Most commonly found indoors.
  • Prefers wet, humid conditions and are usually found in kitchens, bathrooms and commercial properties.

Bad – It is believed that the German cockroach harbours a number of diseases which could potentially have health issues to humans.

Get to know the Silverfish

(Lepismatidae)

dreamstimelarge_13923270 Silverfish

Appearance

  • The Silverfish are white to brown-grey or bluish-silver in colour.
  • Silverfish are teardrop-shaped.
  • Silverfish grow up to12-19 mm in length with three long bristles on rear.
  • Silverfish grow from egg to adult without visible change in appearance.

Life cycle

  • Females lay egg singly or in small batches and hatch between 2 – 8 weeks and go on a primitive metamorphosis, numbers and habits vary, depending on species. One species lays a few eggs a
  • day where as other species lay clusters of 2 – 20 eggs.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) take 3 – 24 months to develop into adults and live up to 4 years.

Habitat

  • Capable of thriving in most climates, silverfish prefer to dwell in dark, damp areas such as basements, attics, kitchens and bathrooms.
  • They are especially attracted to paper and damp clothing.
  • Commonly found in stored boxes in garages and sheds.
  • Silverfish feed on carbohydrates, particularly sugars and starches. Cellulose (fibre), shampoos, glue in books, linen, silk and dead insects may be food sources. Silverfish have been found in unopened food packages.

Bad – Silverfish are not dangerous to humans but cause a great deal of damage to property due to their feeding habits, such as dry foods, furniture, books, clothing, linen and bathroom products e.g. shampoo & soap.

Get to know the Hover Fly

(Melangyna Sp.)

Hover Fly

Appearance:

  • The Common Hover fly has a slim body with large reddish-brown eyes, dark thorax, black and yellow abdomen and wings that are clear in colour.
  • Adult body length is 10mm and larvae feeding on aphid’s body length is 10mm.
  • The Hover fly does not have a sting.
  • The Hover fly is often mistaken for the European wasp due to it’s appearance.
  • The Hover fly is also known as Flower Flies, some species are called Drone Flies.
  • The Hover fly gets its name from the way it hovers.

Life cycle

  • The female Hover fly lay eggs on leaves, the eggs lay into grub like maggots and feed on aphids, scale insects, thrips and caterpillars.
  • Some species of Hover flys, lay their eggs near aphid colonies, the maggot like larvae are predators of aphids.

Habitat

  • The Hover fly is found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
  • Hover fly’s visit flowers just as bees and wasps do, they are major pollinators of some flower plants, they are usually seen hovering or resting on flowers.
  • The Hover fly feeds on nectar and are pollinators of plants too.
  • The Hover fly hovers even when mating.

Good – Hover flies are good for the environment. Hover fly larvae are predators of many insects such as aphids, scale insects, thrips and caterpillars.

Danger to humans and first aid

Nil – The Hover Fly does not have a sting and does not bite.

Get to know the Elm Leaf Beetle

(Xanthogaleruca luteola)

Elm Leaf Beetle

Appearance

  • The Elm leaf beetle is a yellow to olive green with black stipes on their protective wing covers and black spots on their thorax.
    Elm leaf beetles are around 6mm in length.

Life cycle

  • The beetles lay tiny lemon coloured eggs in clumps on the underside of leaves in spring, which hatch in 7-10 days.
  • At first the larvae (grubs) are very small and almost black. The larvae increase in size through summer reaching a length of 12 mm, when they are black and yellow and ‘caterpillar-like’.
  • Around December to January, the larvae migrate down the trunk of the tree to pupate (is the life stage of some insects undergoing transformation) in the soil or in crevices on the lower trunk.
  • After 1 – 2 weeks, new beetles emerge and, in warm summers, the new generation carries on breeding.
  • The new generation of beetles continue to feed on the leaves for several weeks.

Habitat

  • Elm leaf beetles hibernate in sheltered places during winter and emerge in spring to feed on the young leaves.
  • When the weather starts to get cooler in autumn, the adult beetles see shelter for winter in peoples’ homes, wood heaps, sheds and cars. In spring, when the weather starts to warm up again, they re-emerge and start looking for Elm trees again.

Bad – The Elm Leaf Beetle is a species of beetle from Europe. It was found on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in 1989 and has now spread to throughout the east coast of Australia.
Elm leaf beetle adults leave holes in the leaves called ‘shot-holes. Elm leaf beetles larvae cause a different type of damage called ‘skeletonisation’, where everything is eaten except for the leaf veins. Skeletonised leaves turn brown and drop prematurely.

Adults and larvae together can cause severe defoliation of elms, which can weaken mature trees. Elms suffering from repeated elm leaf beetle attack are also more susceptible to other pests and disease.

Although a single, heavy infestation of Elm leaf beetles can completely defoliate an elm, the tree will send out new leaves in the next season. However, the growth of the tree will be affected and, if Elm leaf beetles are not controlled, the tree may eventually die after a few years. If the beetles are controlled early, then elm trees will recover.

A healthy elm is more likely to survive

Keep elm trees watered in dry periods. Fertilise in late winter with slow release fertiliser. Avoid compaction of soil over root zone. Encourage good soil conditions by covering the root zone with mulch rather than lawn.

People are often concerned that they have borers in their homes when they find large numbers of the Elm leaf beetles emerging in their homes. Elm leaf beetles will cause no problems to peoples’ homes; they just use them to stay warm and secure over winter.

Get to know the Argentine Ant

(Linepithema humile)

Argentine Ant

Appearance

  • Argentine Ant workers are small dark or medium brown ants with smooth shiny bodies.
  • The jaws have 5 – 8 large teeth and 5 – 13 smaller serrations.
  • The head is a droplet shape with the widest point above the eyes.
  • Argentine worker ants are about 2mm – 3mm.
  • The queen ants are about 6mm – 8mm.

Life cycle

  • Argentine ant colonies almost always have many reproductive queens, as many as 8 for every 1,000 workers.
  • The queens very rarely or never disperse in winged form, instead, colonies reproduce by budding off into new units.
  • As few as 10 workers and a single queen can establish a new colony, colonies are established late winter or early spring.
  • The eggs of Argentine ants are elliptical (oval) in outline (in shape), pearly-white in colour.
  • Argentine ants take from 12 days to almost 2 months to hatch. The larval stage may be completed in 11 – 60 days. The pupae period may be extended to over 10 – 25 days.
    The minimum period from egg to adult is around 1 month, but it may take up to 4 – 5 months.

Habitat

  • Argentine ants are found in many habitats including urban areas, forests, grasslands, river catchments, shrub lands, farmland, coastland and wetlands.
  • Argentine ant may consume a large amount of invertebrate prey, putting prey species at risk of population decline, and indirectly threatening native predatory insects (native invertebrate such as the native paper wasps and spiders) by using competitive pressures on them, this may also include native reptile species.
  • Argentine ants compete extremely well with all other ant species, both by fighting and by dominating all available food sources, almost all other ants are replaced by Argentine ants.
  • Argentine ants are typically found travelling in well-defined trails between nests and food sources.

Bad – Argentine ants are highly invasive and one of the world’s worst pest ant species. They will displace most native ants from their habitat. Argentine ants harm agricultural crops by protecting insect pests such as aphids and scale insects from predators. Argentine ants protect these pest insects to harvest the sugary honeydew they extract from plants and trees. Throughout this whole process, the plants or trees are being deprived of its nutrients which could lead to poor plant health.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • Wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

Get to know the Black Portuguese Millipede

(Ommatoiulus moreletii)

Black Portuguese Millipede

Appearance:

  • The colour of the Black Portuguese millipede is blackish or brownish in colour with some red, orange or with a spotty pattern.
  • The Black Portuguese millipede is Long and cylindrical in shape, is wormlike with antennae.
  • Adult Black Portuguese millipedes are 20mm– 45mm in length.

Life cycle

  • Black Portuguese millipedes reproduce in late Autumn and early winters.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes hatch from eggs in the soil and initially have 3 pairs of legs.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes develops through a series of moults adding more segments and legs.
  • The first year of life, juveniles have reached the seventh, eighth and ninth stage of development and will be around 15mm.
  • The black Portuguese Millipede reaches maturity at 2 years and will be around 20mm – 45mm in length.

Habitat

  • Portuguese millipedes are most active at night.
  • During hot dry weather, the millipedes remain hidden in the soil.
  • Spring rainy weather in particularly in autumn, stimulates activity, often leading to an outbreak in numbers with thousands of millipedes on the grounds surface.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes congregate in large numbers especially after first Autumn rains.

Bad – The Black Portuguese millipede is an herbivorous (plant eater) millipede native to Portugal. This species was accidentally introduced into Australia, first recorded in WA in 1986, where it has since become an invasive pest. Lacking natural predators in Australia, the black Portuguese millipede has thrived to ‘plague’ proportions. They have been known to enter residences due to their sheer numbers.

Danger to humans and first aid

As a defense mechanism, the millipede secretes a pungent yellowish fluid containing hydrogen cyanide which irritates eyes and stains clothes permanently. Due to this defence mechanism, it is advised that people sweep them up rather than crushing them.

Get to know the European Wasp Nest

Click on image to enlarge

Start of a European Wasp Nest

Early stages of a European Wasp Nest

European Wasp Nest in a  roof void

eWasp nest

European Wasp Nest in a wall cavity

European wasp nest

Established European Wasp Nest

European wasp nest

European Wasp Nest dug up from the ground

Established European Wasp Nest

Established European Wasp Nest

Established European Wasp Nest in the ground

Established European Wasp Nest in the ground

Get to know the House Mouse

(Mus musculus)

house mouse2.2

Appearance

  •  The house mouse is light brown to dark grey in colour, with a light cream belly.
  • The length of an adult house mouse is around 75mm and can weigh up to 30gms.
  • The mice tail are almost hairless and are a long as their bodies.
  • The house mouse has a pair of distinctive chisel shaped incisors (teeth) which continuously grow and the length is controlled by gnawing (chewing).
  • The house mouse has a small head with bulging eyes.
  • The house mouse has rounded ears.

Life cycle

  • The house mouse can start breeding at 6-10 weeks old and produce between 1-12 litters per year. There can be between 5-10 offspring per litter, this depends on environmental conditions.
  • The gestation (pregnancy) period is 19-21 days.
  • House mice are born blind and hairless.
  • The house mouse has a life span of 1-2 years.

Habitat

  • The house mouse lives mainly in urban areas, being closely associated with humans, making nests in houses and buildings.
  • The house mouse can also be found in agricultural areas (summer cropping and cereal areas) and in bushland.
  • Mice are more nocturnal (active at night) but can be seen during the day.
  • Mice are omnivores (meat & plant) and can eat between 3-5gms daily, diet includes meat, peanut butter, vegetable oil, rolled oats, seeds and molasses (syrup).
  • In the field, mice will thrive on introduced cereal grains and consume native grass seeds.
  • The house mouse homing range is limited to 5sqm in buildings and houses and even less in a crop situation/field.

Bad – The house mouse is a serious invasive pest and can breed to plague proportions. The house mouse invades households where they consume food and spoil food sources, chew insulation, vehicles parts, electrical wiring and infrastructure. The house mouse causes serious damage to the agriculture/horticulture industry and native plants. Crops suffer damage prior to seedling emergence, this is when the grain or seed begins to mature.  In cereal crops such as wheat, mice chew the growing nodes (buds) of the plant and can stop the development of the head or cause the stem to collapse.

Danger to humans and first aid

In Australia, mice carry a variety of infectious diseases which can be transmitted to humans and other livestock.

Mice can transmit salmonella to one another, to humans and to domestic animals; encephalomyocarditis virus to pigs; fungal skin diseases (ringworms) to cats and humans; leptospirosis to humans and domestic pigs; and Parasitic infections – Fleas; mites; tapeworms; nematodes, Physaloptera spp.

Control

  • Sanitation and reducing the food and shelter availability for mice.
  • Rodent proofing your home, e.g. sealing up holes or entrance points where mice can enter the building. Mice can jump up to 300mm, jump down around 2.5 metres and squeeze through openings as small as 8mm.

Trapping

  • The use of mouse traps has been the most common control method, there is a wide range of traps available on the market.

Chemical Method

  • There is a wide range of chemical baiting products available on the market. With both single and multiple anticoagulant rodenticides, see warning below.

Warning: Rodenticides are potentially dangerous to humans, domestic animals and wildlife if misused. Store and use them where children are least likely to find them. Read labels carefully and use only as directed. The use of chemical products not registered for the control of mice is illegal and may have serious consequences for quality assurance in the grains industry as well as causing off target damage.

Predators

Predators have a role in controlling the numbers of mice in most years, but are unlikely to have a significant impact during a mouse plague. In South-eastern Australia, the main predators of mice are hawks, kookaburras, foxes, owls, snakes and feral cats.

To seek professional advice or services, please see our “ Pest Control Companies” section on the website.

Get to know the Brushtail Possum

(Trichosurus vulpecula)

dreamstime_s_25283526_brushed-tail-possum

Appearance

  •  The brushtail possum varies in size and colour depending on location. In the cool parts of Australia, the possum is large and a black to silver grey in colour. In the warm parts of Australia, the brushtail possum is smaller and a copper colour with a pale grey belly.
  • size range is up to 55cm in length.
  • Their size is the same as most domestic cats with larger ears, long whiskers, pointed snout, a pink nose and its tail is long, black and bushy.

Life cycle

  • Brushtail possums are marsupials (young are born incompletely developed and are typically carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother’s belly).
  • Mating season for the brushtail possum is in autumn.
  • Babies are usually born in May and June after a gestation period of 17 days.
  • The newborn possum finds its way to the mother’s pouch and attaches itself to a teat.
  • Young possums spend about 5 months in the pouch where they feed and grow. The young possum spends another two months clinging to its mother’s back as she moves around.
  • Usually only one baby is born at a time.
  • The males brushtail possum does not take part in looking after the young.
  • At seven months of age, young possums are independent of their mothers. They are fully grown at around 10 months old.
  • Female possums will usually start to breed, for the first time, when they are 12 months old.
  • The brushtail possums’ life span is 6-7 years and up to 11 years.

Habitat

  • The brushtail possums are nocturnal, sleep during the day and mainly feed between dusk and dawn.
  • The possum is mainly a herbivore (plant eaters) feeding on eucalyptus leaves and flowers, other leaves, buds, flowers and ferns. They will eat fruit and common garden plants; they particularly enjoy rosebuds. The compost heap is also highly desirable for an easy meal of fruit and vegetable scraps. They are tolerant of many plant toxins that other animals would find poisonous.
  • The brushtail possum will eat insects such as moths, grubs and snails. They will also eat bids eggs and babies.
  • Possums are drawn to domestic gardens where they will eat everything from roses to rock melons, magnolias to mangoes, camellias to carrots, wisteria to wattle and can destroy a vegetable garden in no time.
  • Possums are incredibly agile creatures.  They can climb up vertical walls and have also been known to jump from a tree to a roof top, up to 4 metres away.  Possums can pull off roof tiles and squeeze through a very small hole.  They have been seen walking along power lines and balancing on fine tree branches.

Good: The brush-tailed possum is good and native to Australia, however, in New Zealand, it is a feral pest destroying their eco-system.

Danger to humans and first aid

Possums can carry a variety of mites, ticks, other parasites and bacterial infections, some of which can be transmitted to animals and/or humans.  Possum faeces may also carry the buruli bacteria, which can cause large skin ulcers in humans.  Barwon Health Associate Professor Daniel O’Brien has quoted: “a good public health measure is to remove the possum faeces from the area as much as possible and wash your hands as much as you can after that to minimise potential exposures.”

Control

While legislative possum control is permitted in Tasmania to protect crops and for commercial trade in meat and skins, strict regulations govern moving and trapping possums in the rest of the country.

For many Australians, possums are not cute, furry creatures seen walking across overhead branches at dusk, they are frustrating, destructive pests which have moved into our backyards, homes and sheds to eat our prized garden produce and leave our verandas smelling from their urination and droppings.

If a possum has moved into your home, roof void, blocking the entry point at night when the possum is out feeding is the only way to guarantee that it will not return. People should contact a licensed pest control company who can assist in finding and blocking any entry points.

Trapping: trapping must be done by a qualified pest controller. When a possum has been trapped by a professional, release of the possum must be done within 24 hrs of capture and after dusk and within 50metres of trapping site.

To seek professional advice or services, please see our “Pest Control Company” section on the website or click here Pest Control Companies

If a possum is removed by trapping, its home site becomes vacant, ready for another to move in. Sprinkling camphor or naphthalene in the occupied space will deter future occupants.

If you do not hear the possum for a few nights, it has probably found a new home. It may remain in the area if it finds a suitable place to nest or it may move to a new location.

Possums and the Law

Possums are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1980 and it is illegal for an unauthorised person to trap or harm them. Trapping, removing or killing a possum without a licence carries severe penalties.

Guide to making a possum house

Get to know the Oriental Cockroach

(Blatta orientalis)

Oriental Cockroach

Appearance

  • Oriental Cockroaches are dark brown or black in colour.
  • Adults grow to approximately 20 -25mm long.
  • The wings are undeveloped in females, the male’s wings cover ¾ length of the abdomen.

Life cycle

  • Females deposit 16 eggs in an egg case.
  • Eggs hatch in 2 months.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) take 6-18 months to develop into adults.

Habitat

  • Highly adapted for surviving in the natural environment. Oriental cockroaches thrive in cool, damp areas such as sub-floor voids, drains and openings beneath verandas.
  • They prefer to feed on garbage and decay, these insects can generally be found in rubbish tips and leaf litters.
  • The oriental cockroach runs rather than flies.

Bad – The Oriental Cockroach can contaminate food preparation areas, such as cooking utensils and bench tops with their droppings and egg cases.

Get to know the Mud-dauber Wasp Nest

Click on image to enlarge

Mud-dauber Wasp Nest

Mud-dauber Wasp Nest

Mud-dauber wasp nest

Mud-dauber Wasp Nest

Mud-dabuer wasp & nest

Mud-dauber Wasp & Nest, image by Australian Museum

Mud-dauber wasp nest

Mud-dauber Nest

Inside a Mud-dauber wasp nest

Inside a Mud-dauber Wasp Nest

Get to know the European Wasp

Vespula Germanica

European Wasp

Click here for images of European Wasp Nests

Appearance

  • The European wasp is an aggressive stinging insect.
  • European wasps are bright yellow and have a black banded abdomen, and a pair of black spots on each yellow band.
  • European wasps have two pairs of clear wings with the first pair larger.
  • They have black antennae and fly with their legs held close to the body.
  • Their size is between 1.2 cm – 1.6 cm

Life cycle

  • European wasp colonies are started in spring by a single fertilised queen, which lays an egg in a number of cells in the nest. These hatch into grub-like larvae and are tended by the queen for a number of weeks. They become the first batch of workers that take over nest construction and rearing of the larvae while the queen concentrates on laying eggs. The queen will not leave the nest again, she will communicate to her workers/nest via a pheromone.
  • The nest grows throughout the summer until a batch of males and new queens are hatched in the autumn. They mate, the males will die and the queen will find a suitable site to hibernate for the winter. In the spring, the queen will re-emerge, feed on carbohydrates/nectar and will begin her new colony.
  • In Europe the nest then disintegrates, but in Australia’s warm climate the nest can continue to grow over a number of seasons.
  • This results in giant and potentially dangerous nests of over 100,000 wasps.
  • Most nests have an average of 5,000 – 7,000 wasps.

Habitat

  • European wasps are found in large communal nests, normally only visible as a small entrance hole.
  • Nests are normally built either underground or in cavities in walls, ceilings, logs or trees.
  • Nests are made out of chewed wood fibre.
  • Workers leave the nest in search of food, and are attracted to meats, sweet food and drink.
  • Foraging range for a European wasp worker can be up to 1.2km from the nest.

Distribution

The European wasp is a native of Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. In Australia, the first European Wasps were found in Tasmania in 1959. By 1978 they had also been found in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. They are now firmly established in all these areas.

Bad – The European wasp s has a nasty sting, they can sting multiple times. They are a nuisance to people’s homes and gardens, public places such as BBQ areas, cafes/restaurants and fresh food markets. They are in search of rich protein foods to feed their larvae, such as pet food, meat from BBQs and picnics as well as insects and spiders. European wasps have a negative impact on the environment due to the large number of insects and spiders they consume, this in turn puts pressure on our native insects and birds as food becomes scarce.

Danger to humans and first aid

If threatened or the nest is disturbed, European wasps emit an alarm pheromone summoning the rest of the colony to attack!

The European wasp is more aggressive than bees and will attack when their nest is threatened or disturbed. Unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once, and do not die after stinging. The sting causes a burning pain and swelling. If stings are multiple, a more severe systemic reaction may occur.

In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), 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 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 amongst known allergy sufferers who were not carrying their preventative medicine with them.

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.

We do not recommend the public treating European wasp nests, always engage a qualified Pest Controller.

Note: The use of honey based baiting systems is illegal in all States and Territories of Australia.

Please report all European wasp nests to the European Wasp Hotline. By reporting, we are able to monitor the distribution of European wasps through urban and bush land areas and how they are affecting the native species of both prey and predator. For the research to be successful, we rely heavily on the public reporting all European wasp nests to the hotline.

For nest reporting, advice and treatment/removal, contact the European Wasp Hotline via phone, website/email or eWasp mobile app.

See Precautions against European Wasps

Get to know the Bull Ant

(Myrmecia Sp.)

Bull Ant

Appearance

  • Bull ants are large, alert and can grow up to 40 mm in length.
  • They have large eyes and long, slender mandibles (jaws) and a potent venom-packed sting.
  • They have excellent vision, able to watch, track and follow any potential threat to their nest from a distance of 1 – 2 metres.
  • Many species of bull ants have bright red or orange colours on the head or abdomen.
  • Almost every bull ant is born female.

Life cycle

  • The bull ant’s life cycle is from egg – larva – pupa – adult.
  • Eggs take around three to four months to fully develop in to adult.
  • The eggs hatch into small grubs which grow into a respective caste, most are workers and/or soldiers and will stay in that role their entire lives.
  • A queen bull ant may live for several years.

Habitat

  • Bull ants are found throughout Australia.
  • Bull ants live in urban areas, nature reserves and parks.
  • Like most ants, bull ants live in colonies. Nests are generally found in the ground or under a rock.
  • Bull ants collect nectar and plant sap. They also collect insect prey which are carried back to the nest for food.
  • Bull ant nests are generally underground and often have small and/or hidden entrances. The nests can extend several metres below the ground.
  • The bull ant will defend their nest by attacking intruders of any size. Bull ants also have excellent vision and will follow or chase an intruder a good distance from the nest.

Good – The bull ant is native to Australia. They are beneficial to the environment as they control pest insects e.g. cockroaches, some beetle species, earwigs and aphids.

Danger to humans and first aid

These ants can deliver painful stings and are aggressive. An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

If the control measures above are unsuccessful and the ants are becoming a nuisance, then a chemical method can be applied.

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

 

Get to know the Black Rat/Roof Rat

(Rattus rattus)

Rat

Appearance

  • The colour of the Black Rat/Roof Rat is dark grey to black or a light brown and a cream or white underneath. Their coat is smooth and sleek.
  • The length of an adult rat is 165-205 mm, Tail length is around185-255 mm and they weigh around 95-340gms.
  • The rats front teeth helps distinguish them from similarly sized carnivorous marsupials, a pair of distinctive chisel shaped incisors (teeth) which continuously grow, the length is controlled by gnawing (chewing).
  • The adult rat has a long pointed head. Their heads can be more rounded in juvenile.
  • The rat has large thin ears, around 20mm.

Life cycle

  • The rat can start breeding at 3-4 months old and produce between 4-5 litters per year. There can be between 6-8 offspring per litter, this depends on environmental conditions.
  • The gestation (pregnancy) period is 22 days.
  • The rat has a life span of around 2 years.

Habitat

  • The rat lives mainly in urban areas, being closely associated with humans, making nests in houses and buildings.
  • Rats are more nocturnal (active at night) but can be seen during the day.
  • Rats are omnivores (meat & plant) and can eat between 15-22gms daily, diet includes rolled oats, seeds, fruit products, peanut butter, meat, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and molasses (syrup).
  • The rats homing range is around 40-50 metres.

Bad: Rats have the potential to breed quickly and infest crops and food storages, where they cause serious economic damage. This is a major international problem and represents one of the most significant causes of lost or spoilt food supply worldwide.

The rat can gnaw insulation, vehicles parts, electrical wiring and infrastructure. Rats are rodents, and all rodents gnaw. With their teeth continually growing, just as you clip your fingernails, a Rat gnaws in order to keep its teeth in check. They like to gnaw on a variety of surfaces, but they really seem to like electrical wires which is a problem. (Reference NSW DPI)

Rats in the garden

Garden Rats are very common especially if an adjoining property has birds, chickens, bird-feeders, bird-baths, rabbits or any other animals that live outdoors and feed on cereals, which Rats love. Another food source is fallen fruit or dog and cat food that has been left out. Compost bins and poor rubbish storage are another draw to your property, so it pays to get these things sorted fast. (Reference NSW DPI)

Danger to humans and first aid

Around the world, rats are known to spread over 35 diseases that can infect both people and pets, including:

  • Plague,
  • Salmonellosis,
  • Leptospirosis, and
  • Tularemia.

Control

  • Sanitation and reducing the food and shelter availability for rats.
  • Rodent proofing your home, e.g. sealing up holes or entrance points where rats can enter the building. Rats can jump up to 1metre, jump down around 12metres and squeeze through openings as small as 2cm.

Trapping

  • The use of mouse/rat traps has been the most common control method, there is a wide range of traps available on the market.

Chemical Method

  • There is a wide range of chemical baiting products available on the market. With both single and multiple anticoagulant rodenticides, see warning below.

Warning: Rodenticides are potentially dangerous to humans, domestic animals and wildlife if misused. Store and use them where children are least likely to find them. Read labels carefully and use only as directed. The use of chemical products not registered for the control of mice is illegal and may have serious consequences for quality assurance in the grains industry as well as causing off target damage.

To seek professional advice or services, please see our “ Pest Control Companies” section on the website.

Get to know the Black Carpet Beetle

(Attagenus unicolor)

Black Carpet Beetle

Appearance

  • There are a number of carpet beetle species in Australia with the common ones being the Variegated and the Black carpet beetle.
  • Larvae is up to 7mm long when fully developed in larvae stage.
  • The larvae are usually reddish-brown to dark brown in colour with stiff bristles over the body.
  • The beetle is 3-5 mm in length
  • The Black carpet beetle is elongate-oval in shape, and a dark brown to shiny black in colour with brownish leg colour.

Life cycle

  • Females will lay their egg in a dark undisturbed area, where the larvae will eat and develop.
  • Eggs hatch between 14-28 days
  • Larvae feed up to 9 months, after which they pupate (pupal stage – metamorphosis is 14-21 days)
  • Adults live between 20-40 days
  • The Black carpet beetle’s life cycles is 6-12 months.

Habitat

  • The Black carpet beetle is found throughout Australia.
  • The beetle lives in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
  • The adult beetles eat flowers and live mostly outdoors.
  • The beetle may invade homes, whose larvae then feeds on carpet and similar fabrics.
  • As a result, treatment indoors is ineffective in the long term because the adult beetles easily re-enter and infest buildings with their larvae.
  • The most common way these beetles are entering homes is through cut flowers being brought in from the garden.

Neutral

Good: The Black carpet beetle in its natural environment, forests and woodlands, are good and beneficial as the larvae feed on dead insects and animal carcasses. The adult beetle feed on pollen which assists in pollination.

Bad: Black Carpet beetles lay their eggs in houses, the larvae will feed on wool, fur, hair, silk, clothes, fabrics, carpet and rugs, insulating material, stored foods like dried meat, seeds and grains.

The larvae of the of the Black carpet beetle are small hairy grubs whose hairs break off when handled and can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If allergic reaction occurs, seek medical attention.

Control

Closely inspect carpeted areas beneath heavy furniture and along carpet edges for infestation. If live larvae are found, hygiene plays an important role. In the prevention of carpet beetle infestation, vacuuming and/or cleaning carpet or fabric properly is very important. It is important to clean carpet edges and areas where hair, dust, and other materials may build up.

Firstly, it is important to properly identify the beetle once infestation occurs as the larvae is most harmful to carpet and fabrics. Immediately and directly remove the carpet beetles by vacuuming them up.

Chemical method

There are a number of products on the market, make sure that the product lists carpet beetles on its label, and follow the directions on the label.

To seek professional advice or services, please see our “ Pest Control Companies” section on the website.

 

 

Get to know the Variegated Carpet Beetle

(Anthrenus verbasci)

dreamstime_s_13634328_varegaited-carpet-beetle

Appearance

  • There are a number of carpet beetle species in Australia with the common ones being the variegated and the black carpet beetle.
  • Larvae is 4-5mm long when fully developed in larvae stage.
  • The larvae are usually reddish-brown to dark brown in colour with stiff bristles over the body.
  • The beetle is 2-3 mm in length.
  • The Variegated carpet beetle is oval in shape and yellow, white and black in colour

Life cycle

  • Females will lay their eggs in a dark undisturbed area, where the larvae will eat and develop.
  • Eggs hatch between 14-28 days
  • Larvae feed up to 9 months, after which they pupate (pupal stage – metamorphosis is 14-21 days)
  • Adults live between 20-40 days.
  • The Variegated carpet beetle’s life cycle is 9-12 months.

Habitat

  • The Variegated carpet beetle is found throughout Australia.
  • The beetle lives in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
  • The adult beetles eat flowers and live mostly outdoors.
  • The beetle may invade homes, whose larvae then feeds on carpet and similar fabrics.
  • As a result, treatment indoors is ineffective in the long term because the adult beetles easily re-enter and infest buildings with their larvae.
  • The most common way these beetles are entering homes is through cut flowers being brought in from the garden.

Good: The carpet beetle in its natural environment, forests and woodlands, are good and beneficial as the larvae feed on dead insects and animal carcasses. The adult beetle feed on pollen which assist in pollination.
AND
Bad: The Variegated carpet beetles lay their eggs in houses, the larvae will feed on wool, fur, hair, silk, clothes, fabrics, carpet and rugs, insulating material, stored foods like dried meat, seeds and grains.

Danger to humans and first aid

The larvae of the Variegated Carpet Beetle are small hairy grubs whose hairs break off when handled and can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If allergic reaction occurs, seek medical advice.

Control

Closely inspect carpeted areas beneath heavy furniture and along carpet edges for infestation. If live larvae are found, hygiene plays an important role. In the prevention of carpet beetle infestation, vacuuming and/or cleaning carpet or fabric properly is very important. It is important to clean carpet edges and areas where hair, dust, and other materials may build up.

Firstly, it is important to properly identify the beetle once infestation occurs as the larvae is most harmful to carpet and fabrics. Immediately and directly remove the carpet beetles by vacuuming them up.

Chemical method

There are a number of products on the market, make sure that the product lists carpet beetles on its label, and follow the directions on the label.

To seek professional advice or services, please see our “ Pest Control Companies” section on the website.

Get to know the Asian Paper Wasp

(Polistes chinensis)

Asian Paper Wasp

Click here for images of Asian Paper Wasp Nests

Appearance

  • Asian Paper wasps have a small head, with medium sized eyes and medium length antennae.
  • The paper wasps body is slender, with a very narrow waist. The wings are reddish amber brown.
  • The abdomen is reddish brown with yellow rings, the body is a reddish brown to black with long bright yellow legs.
  • The Asian paper wasp grows between 1.3 cm – 2.5 cm in length.

Life cycle

  • Over-wintering female wasps emerge in spring and begin nest cell construction and egg laying.
  • The first broods (a number of young produced or hatched at one time) to emerge in late spring or early summer are only females.
  • There is no clear difference in workers and the queen, even small ones, are potentially fertile.
  • Egg production in a colony is dominated by one or a few females.
  • Male wasps are particularly noticeable in early autumn when they perform distinctive courtship behaviour.
  • Males are produced from early summer onwards, and following that, no more females are produced for the season.
  • Maximum nest size 10 cm – 12 cm.
  • Nests can grow to twice the size of a Native paper wasp nest.

Habitat

  • The Asian paper wasp may consume a considerable amount of invertebrate prey, putting prey species at risk of population decline, and indirectly threatening native predatory insects (native invertebrate such as the paper wasps and spiders) by exerting competitive pressures on them (this may include native reptile species).
  • The Asian paper wasp may compete with honey bees and native bird species for honeydew and nectar.

Bad – The Asian paper wasp is a significant public nuisance, stinging people when it is disturbed and constructing its nest on houses.

Danger to humans and first aid

Asian paper wasps can deliver painful stings and a cold pack may be used to relieve the pain. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, seek immediate medical attention.

Please report all Asian paper wasp nests to the European Wasp Hotline. By reporting, we are able to monitor the distribution of the Asian paper wasp through urban areas and how they are affecting the native species of both prey and predator. For the research to be successful, we rely heavily on the public reporting all Asian paper wasp nests.

Control

Late summer and early autumn the Asian paper wasp nest can have up to 100 wasps in the nest and are more aggressive in defending their nest. It’s recommended that you seek a professional Pest Controller to treat an Asian paper wasp nest during these months.

Always seek professional advice before treating wasps or nests, do not treat wasps or nests if you are allergic to bees or wasps.
Always use a register can of insecticide, the can must have wasp symbol/image on it.

Best time to treat Asian paper wasps/nests

The best time to treat Asian paper wasps or the nest is late in the evening when all the wasps are on the nest and activity is low, they are most calm at this time.

Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when treating a Asian paper wasp nest, protective clothing includes a bee veil, hat, long sleeved overalls or long pants, long sleeved jumper/hoodie, gloves and protective eye wear.

How to apply insecticide

Wind should always be coming from behind you, and blowing towards the Asian paper wasps or the nest, holding the registered can of insecticide in an upright position, stand a safe distance from the Asian paper wasp nest and not directly underneath the nest, the spray should reach the nest. Spray using a sweeping motion to saturate the nest.
When the Asian paper wasps are dead, you can remove the nest by hosing it down or knock it down with a stick.

Do not use this method or any other method for European Wasp nests, always engage a professional Pest Controller to treat a European wasp nest.

Get to know the Mud-dauber Wasp

(Sceliphron Sp.)

dreamstime_s_19785735_mud dauber wasp

Click here for images of Mud-dauber Wasp Nests

Appearance

  • The Mud-dauber wasp is one of the more commonly encountered wasps throughout Australia.
  • There are many species of wasps referred to as mud daubers; some other common names are dirt daubers, organ-pipe wasps, mud wasps and potter wasps.
  • Mud daubers wasps colour is either completely black or metallic blue. Some species have yellow or greenish markings on the body.
  • The body shape is usually “thread-waisted” with some mud-daubers possessing an extremely long and thin, stretched out looking body segment located between the thorax and abdomen.
  • Mud-daubers wasps generally are from 1 cm – 3 cm in length.

Life cycle

      • Mud-daubers wasps complete one or two generations per year, depending on the species.
      • In the spring, the overwintering pupae (cocoon) develop into adults.
      • The new adult females begin building a new nest. After completing the mud nest, they begin to capture insects and/or spiders that are placed into each mud nest cell.
      • Eggs are deposited on the prey within each cell, then the cell is sealed with mud. The larvae that hatch from the eggs and feed on the prey left by the adult wasp.
      • Prey are stung and paralysed, not killed, before being placed in the mud cell. This is crucial since dead prey would decompose and aren’t suitable nourishment for the larva development. The following spring, the pupae become adults, beginning the next generation of Mud-daubers wasps.
      • There are four stages in the mud-dauber life cycle, egg-larvae-cocoon-wasp, from egg to wasp takes around 3 weeks.

Habitat

      • The Mud-dauber Wasp lives in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
      • Adults feed on plant nectar, honeydew and the body fluids of spiders and insects they capture. At least two species of Mud-daubers are especially important since they are reported to seek out and capture spiders.

Good – The Mud-dauber wasp is native to Australia. Mud-daubers are very beneficial to the environment as they help reduce the numbers of some pest insects and spiders. Also, they are not likely to sting. However, it is never smart to approach their nests without exercising caution.

Danger to humans and first aid

The Mud-dauber Wasp can deliver painful stings, but attacks are rare. An ice pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.

Control

The Mud-dauber wasp is beneficial to the environment as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. If the nest is not in a high traffic area or no one in the household is allergic to bees and wasps, they are good to have around.

Always seek professional advice before treating wasps or nests, do not treat wasps or nests if you are allergic to bees or wasps.
Always use a register can of insecticide, the can must have a wasp symbol/image on it.

Best time to treat mud-dauber wasps/nests

The best time to treat mud-dauber wasps or the nest is late in the evening when wasp activity is low. Mud-dauber wasps tend to rest overnight under bark, leaves, crack or crevices but also maybe found on their nest. Before removing the nest, be sure the wasps are not on or in the nest. If the wasps are on the nest, you need to destroy the wasps first, (see How to apply insecticide). Once the wasps are gone/destroyed, you can wash or smash down the nest.

Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when treating a mud-dauber nest, protective clothing includes a bee veil, hat, long sleeved overalls or long pants, long sleeved jumper/hoodie, gloves and protective eye wear.

How to apply insecticide

Wind should always be coming from behind you, and blowing towards the mud-dauber wasps or nest, holding the registered can of insecticide in an upright position, stand a safe distance from the mud-dauber nest and not directly underneath the nest, the spray should reach the nest. Spray using a sweeping motion to saturate the nest.
When the mud dauber wasps are dead, you can remove the nest by hosing it down or knock it down with a stick.

Do not use this method or any other method for European Wasp nests, always engage a professional Pest Controller to treat a European wasp nest.

Get to know the American Cockroach

(Periplaneta americana)

American cockroach on white

Appearance

  • The American cockroach is one of the largest pest cockroaches to invade homes and commercial properties in Australia.
  • The American Cockroach is a shiny red–brown in colour.
  • Adults grow to approximately 35 – 40mm long.
  • The wings in males are longer than the body; in the female, the wings overlap the abdomen.
  • The American cockroach runs but will fly at warmer temperatures.

Life cycle

  • The egg case contains up to 16 eggs and is carried by the female for several days before being deposited, sometimes glued down and tend to be grouped.
  • Eggs hatch in 1 – 2 months.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) usually develop into adults in 6 -12 months and will live up to 6 – 12 months.

Habitat

  • The American Cockroach is also known as the ‘Palmetto bug’ because they live on trees.
  • The American cockroach prefers dark, humid and undisturbed areas, it can be found in sub-floor voids, roof voids, kitchens and bathrooms of homes.

Bad – The American Cockroach can contaminate food preparation areas, such as cooking utensils and bench tops with their droppings and empty egg cases.

Get to know the Asian Paper Wasp Nest

Click on image to enlarge

Asian Paper Wasp Nest

Asian Paper Wasp Nest

Asian paper wasp nest

Asian Paper Wasp Nest

Asian PW Nest

Asian Paper Wasp Nest

Get to know the Fire Ant

(Solenopsis invicta)

red-fire-ant

Appearance

  • The Fire ant is a small ant, between 2-6mm long (each nest contains various sizes of ants’ dependent on their role in the nest).
  • The head and body of a fire ant is a coppery to reddish brown in colour and the abdomen is darker.
  • In NSW, the fire ant can be confused with the common coastal brown ant but can be distinguished by the fire ant’s aggressive behaviour.

Life cycle

  • New colonies start when alate queens and drones commence mating flights, after this time, the male dies and the queen goes on to start a new colony.
  • Queen lays between 10-20 eggs within the first 24 hours.
  • The eggs hatch in 6-10 days and then more eggs are laid by the queen.
  • Within 1 month, first workers’ hatch, forage for food and tend to the queen and larvae. (The Queens only purpose is to continue laying eggs)
  • The fire ant’s life cycle is from egg-larva-pupa-adult. Fire ants have four larvae stages before they develop into adults.
  • Eggs take around 3-5 months to fully develop into adult.
  • The eggs hatch into small grubs and then become adult worker ants. As the workers age, their role changes to that of colony maintenance, sanitation and defence.
  • The average life span of a worker ant is 5 weeks.
  • A mature colony will produce alates within 6-12 months.
  • In ideal conditions, queens have been known to live up to 7 years.

Habitat

  • Fire ants are native to the South America. Fire ants build a dirt nest/mound which can be up to 40 cm high. The size and shape of the nest varies depending on the soil type and colony size.
  • Nests can develop under logs, rocks or other materials lying on the ground.
  • The entry and exit holes of a nest are concealed. The ants enter and leave the mound through underground tunnels, can be up to 30cm long, and radiate outwards from the nest.
  • Fire ants are omnivorous, eating plant material, insects and small animals. They will also scavenge dead animals.
  • Fire ants appear to be attracted to electricity, and nests have been found in buildings and equipment around electrical systems.
  • A mature fire ant colony can contain between 200,000 to 400,000 workers.

Bad – Fire ants are a serious pest as they have the potential to cause major social, environmental and economic impact across the world. Fire ants have the potential to inhabit most of the major coastal areas of Australia, and extensive areas of the tropical north. Vast areas of the continent’s natural environment, including world heritage areas and national parks, are prone to fire ant invasion.

Fire ants are very aggressive and are voracious feeders, feeding on small ground fauna such as insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, birds and mammals. Fire ants may displace or eliminate some of Australia’s unique flora and fauna species.

Danger to humans and first aid

Fire ants swarm to attack and sting repeatedly.

If a nest is disturbed, the workers may very quickly move the queen and the brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) to a new location and will quickly attack to defend the nest.

Fire ants are a menace because of their sting. Fire ants are very small and move very quickly, by the time they sting, a large number of ants are already on your body. Stings from fire ants can cause a painful, burning itching sensation, this sensation can last for up to an hour. Multiple stings give the sensation that the body is on fire.

Pets and domestic animals can also be stung and injured and may have allergic reactions or be blinded by exposure to the venom.

If stung by fire ants:

  • Apply an ice pack or cold compress to relieve the swelling and pain.
  • Gently wash the affected area with soap and water and leave the blister/s intact. (There is a risk of secondary infection if the blisters or pustules, that result from the sting/s, are broken)
  • If you are allergic to insect stings or experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.

Control

Alert: Be on the lookout for Fire ants and report them to Bio-security Queensland and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Early detection and reporting are the key elements in eradicating Fire ant.

Call Queensland Government on 13 25 23

Fire ant forms and notifications

 Call New South Wales Government, Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881

NSW Department Primary Industries Pest Alert

 

 

Get to know the Native Paper Wasp

(Polistes humilis)

Native Paper Wasp

Click here for images of Native Paper Wasp Nests

Appearance

  • There are about 35 different paper wasp species native to Australia.
  • Paper wasps have a small head, with medium sized eyes and medium length antennae.
  • The paper wasps body is slender, with a very narrow waist. There are two pairs of brown-tinted wings, with the first pair larger.
  • The abdomen has some yellow/orange bands, but is mainly black.
  • The Paper Wasp grows between 1 cm – 2.2 cm in length.

Life cycle

  • Over-wintering female wasps emerge in spring and begin nest cell construction and egg laying
  • The first broods (a number of young produced or hatched at one time) to emerge in late spring or early summer are only females.
  • There is no clear difference in workers and the queen, even small ones, are potentially fertile.
  • Egg production in a colony is dominated by one or a few females.
  • Male wasps are particularly noticeable in early autumn when they perform distinctive courtship behaviour.
  • Males are produced from early summer onwards, and following that, no more females are produced for the season.
  • Maximum nest size 10 cm – 12 cm.
  • Nests contain s 12 – 20 Paper Wasps.

Habitat

  • Adult paper wasps catch caterpillars to feed their larvae, but the adults themselves feed on nectar.
  • The nest of the paper wasp is a series of cells shaped like an inverted cone. The nest is make from saliva mixed with wood fragments. When it dries, the mixture is quite paper-like, which gives these wasps their name.

Good – The Native paper wasps tend to only be aggressive when defending their nests but are otherwise beneficial insects to have around the garden.

Danger to humans and first aid

Paper wasps can deliver painful stings and a cold pack may be used to relieve the pain. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, seek immediate medical attention.

Control

The Native paper wasp is beneficial to the environment as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. If the nest is not in a high traffic area or no one in the household is allergic to bees and wasps, they are good to have around.

Late summer and early autumn the Native paper nest can have up to 30 wasps in the nest and are more aggressive in defending their nest. It’s recommended that you seek a professional Pest Controller treat Native paper wasp nests during these months.

Always seek professional advice before treating wasps or nests, do not treat wasps or nests if you are allergic to bees or wasps.
Always use a register can of insecticide, the can must have wasp symbol/image on it.

Best time to treat Native paper wasps/nests

The best time to treat Native paper wasps or the nest is late in the evening when all the wasps are on the nest and activity is low, they are most calm at this time.

Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when treating a Native paper wasp nest, protective clothing includes a bee veil, hat, long sleeved overalls or long pants, long sleeved jumper/hoodie, gloves and protective eye wear.

How to apply insecticide

Wind should always be coming from behind you, and blowing towards the Native paper wasps or the nest, holding the registered can of insecticide in an upright position, stand a safe distance from the Native paper wasp nest and not directly underneath the nest, the spray should reach the nest. Spray using a sweeping motion to saturate the nest.
When the Native paper wasps are dead, you can remove the nest by hosing it down or knock it down with a stick.

Do not use this method or any other method for European Wasp nests, always engage a professional Pest Controller to treat a European wasp nest.

Get to know the Australian Cockroach

(Periplaneta australasiae)

Australian Cockroach on white

Appearance

  • The Australian Cockroach is large in appearance.
  • The Australian Cockroach is reddish brown in colour with a yellow margin around the thorax and yellow edges on the forewings.
  • Adults grow to approximately 30mm in length.

Life cycle

  • Females deposit the egg case containing 24 eggs.
  • The eggs hatch after 40 days.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) take 6 – 12 months to develop into adults and live up to 8 months.

Habitat

  • The Australian cockroach is common around urban areas. They are often seen in and around homes and gardens.

Bad – Despite its name, the Australian cockroach is not a native species, it is an introduced species from Asia. They can transmit disease by contaminating food.

Get to know the Native Paper Wasp Nest

Click on image to enlarge

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Native Paper Wasp Nest

NPW Nest

Native Paper Wasp Nest

Native Paper Wasp Nest

Native Paper Wasp Nest

Get to know the European Honey Bee Swarm

Click on image to enlarge

European Honey Bee Swarm

European Honey Bee Swarm

Honey Bee swarm

European Honey Bee swarm

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European Honey Bee Swarm

European Honey Bee Swarm

European Honey Bee Swarm

Collection of a European honey bee swarm

Collection of a European Honey Bee Swarm

Get to know the Sand Wasp

(Bembix Sp)

Sand wasp

The sand wasps are closely related to the Mud-dauber Wasp but, unlike their cousins, sand wasps nest in the ground.

Appearance

  • Size of a sand wasp is around 2 cm.
  • Most sand wasps are yellow and black or white and black, often with a banded pattern. Many sand wasps have pale greenish markings.
  • The sand wasp’s habit of hovering uncomfortably close to a person is for the purpose of catching flies which are attracted to that individual, it is often mistaken for aggression.

Life cycle

  • Adult sand wasps feed on nectar.
  • The wasps hunt for flies and other insects to feed their larvae.
  • Sand flies dig burrows in sand where they lay their eggs. The adult sand wasp will stock/fill the burrow with paralysed insects and cover up the burrow. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the paralysed insects in the burrow.

Habitat

  • Sand wasps are found throughout Australia.
  • Sand wasps live in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
  • Sand Wasps are solitary hunting wasps that nest in loose sand in a sunny location. They are not aggressive wasps and will not attempt to sting if you approach them.
  • They hunt for insects (some species hunt only certain species of flies) which they paralyse with their sting and drag down sand burrows to feed the larvae.
  • They are excellent hunters, capturing flies on the wing, paralysing them with venom in mid-air and carrying them back to the waiting larvae.
  • Although sand wasps may nest in a group, they do not share labour unless the nest needs defending, in which case they may attack as a swarm.

Danger to humans and first aid

Sand wasps can deliver painful stings, but are not as aggressive as the European Wasp. They normally only attack humans if their nest is disturbed. An ice pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Good – The Sand wasp is native to Australia. The sand wasp is beneficial to the environment as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. If the nest is not in a high traffic area or no one in the household is allergic to bees and wasps, they are good to have around.

The sand wasp will defend their nest very aggressively. It’s recommended that you seek a professional Pest Controller to treat a sand wasp nest.

Control

The Sand wasp is beneficial to the environment as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. If the nest is not in a high traffic area or no one in the household is allergic to bees and wasps, they are good to have around.

Always seek professional advice before treating wasps or nests, do not treat wasps or nests if you are allergic to bees or wasps.
Always use a register can of insecticide, the can must have wasp symbol/image on it.

Best time to treat Sand wasps/nests

The best time to treat Sand wasps is when they are hovering over the nesting site, if they are in the ground, they will not get the chemical on them.

Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when treating a Sand wasp nest, protective clothing includes a bee veil, hat, long sleeved overalls or long pants, long sleeved jumper/hoodie, gloves and protective eye wear.

How to apply insecticide

Wind should always be coming from behind you, and blowing towards the Sand wasps or the nest, holding the registered can of insecticide in an upright position, stand a safe distance from the Sand wasp. Spray using a sweeping motions to spray the sand wasps.

Do not use this method or any other method for European Wasp nests, always contact/engage a professional Pest Controller to treat a European wasp nest.

Get to know the Meat Ant

(Iridomyrmex Sp.) Image by Steve Shattuck/CSIRO Australia

Steve Shattuck/CSIRO Australia

Appearance

  • Meat ants are a reddish brown in colour.
  • Meat ant workers are about 6-7 mm long and are reddish-brown with a slightly paler head and a darker gaster (abdomen). The body has shiny reflections of purple on the sides of the head and between the eyes.
  • Meat ants build large nests underground. They place sand, gravel and pebbles on the upper surface of the nest.
  • Large nests are common along country roadsides.
  • A single nest may contain tens of thousands of ants.
  • Workers of the colony are equipped with powerful jaws and communicate with each other using chemical cues (signals).

Life cycle

  • A meat ant queen, who lays all the eggs, is winged at birth but loses her wings after mating. There may be more than one queen in a nest.
  • Male meat ants have wings also and their only role is to mate with the new queens.
  • Reproductive new queen ants will only mate with a single male and begin establishing her own colony in early spring.
  • A single queen meat ant will start her own colony, eggs will take around 40 to 60 days to fully develop and develop as adults.

Habitat

  • Meat Ants are omnivores (eat plants and animals) and forage during the day, other species of ants in the area may be restricted to night foraging.
  • Meat ants are aggressive towards intruders, attacking other invertebrates. They may eat and/or drive off much larger animals by the sheer mass of numbers.
  • Border disputes may occur between rival colonies and are resolved by ritual (habitual) fighting.
  • Meat Ants and other species often have mutually beneficial relationships with caterpillars of different butterflies. Caterpillars supply sugary fluids to the ants, which in turn protect the caterpillars from predators.

Good – The Meat ant is native to Australia. They are beneficial to the environment as they are omnivores that control pest insects such as cockroaches, some beetle’s species, earwigs, aphids, any dead animals and as well as nectar and plant.

Danger to humans and first aid

Meat Ants don’t have a sting but are equipped with defensive compounds produced by the anal gland, a structure unique to this subfamily species of ant. This is the cause of the strong and unpleasant odours produced by many species in this family when they are disturbed, crushed or threatened. They also bite repeatedly and aggressively to defend their nests and territories.
An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • Wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

If the control measures above are unsuccessful and the ants are becoming a nuisance, then a chemical method can be applied.

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection should be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

Get to know the Huntsman Spider

(Heteropoda sp)

Huntsman Spider

Appearance

  • Huntsman spiders are large, long-legged hairy spiders.
  • They are mostly grey to brown, sometimes with banded legs.
  • Many huntsman spiders, have rather flattened bodies adapted for living in narrow spaces under loose bark or rock crevices. This is aided by their legs, instead of bending vertically in relation to the body, the joints are twisted so that they spread out forwards and laterally in a crab-like fashion (‘giant crab spiders’).
  • Body lengths in females is 2 cm and the male is 1.6 cm; Leg span is up to 15 cm.

Life cycle

  • The female Huntsman produces a flat, oval egg sac of white papery silk, and lays up to 200 eggs. She then places it under bark or a rock, and stands guard over it, without eating, for about 3 weeks. During this period, the female can be quite aggressive and will rear up in a defensive display if provoked. Some species will even carry their egg sac under their bodies while moving about. Incubation periods vary and are probably influenced by climatic conditions.
  • The mother stays with the spiderlings for several weeks. Young Huntsman spiders are pale. They undergo several moults while still with their mother, hardening to a darker brown, and eventually separating.
  • Huntsman spiders, like all spiders, moult in order to grow and often their old skin may be mistaken for the original spider when seen suspended on bark or in the house.
  • The lifespan of most Huntsman species is about 2 years or more.

Habitat

  • These species are generally widely distributed throughout Australia.
  • Huntsman spiders are found living under loose bark on trees, in crevices on rock walls and in logs, under rocks and slabs of bark on the ground, and on foliage.
  • Huntsman spiders of many species sometimes enter houses. They are also notorious for entering cars, and being found hiding behind sun visors or running across the dashboard.

Good – The Huntsman spider is beneficial to the environment as they control numbers of other spider species and insects.

Danger to humans and first aid

The bite of Huntsman Spiders is of low risk (nontoxic) to humans. They are a non-aggressive, however, a large individual can give a painful bite. Beware in summer when the female Huntsman Spider is guarding her egg sacs or young.

Get to know the Brown Banded Cockroach

(Supella longipalpa)

Image_1233196-LGPT_ Brown banded cockroach

 Appearance

  • The Brown Banded Cockroach is one of the smallest pest cockroaches in Australia.
  • The Brown Banded Cockroach has yellow-brown stripes across their abdomen.
  • Brown Banded adult cockroaches grow to approximately 10 – 15mm in length.

Life cycle

  • The Brown Banded Cockroach carries up to 18 eggs.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) usually develop into adults in 2 – 4 months and will live up to 3 – 6 months.

Habitat

  • They prefer warm, humid environments which leads them to dwell within heated buildings, ceilings, roof voids, inside and around appliance motors.
  • Very active at night, they are opportunistic feeders and mostly enjoy materials with high starch contents.
  • Brown banded cockroaches mostly stay on ground, but may fly in warmer conditions if disturbed.

Bad – The Brown Banded Cockroach scatter throughout residential and commercial buildings making them difficult to control. Sightings of individual Brown banded cockroaches in day light is usual.

Get to know the European Honey Bee Hive

Click on image to enlarge

European Honey Bee Hive

European Honey Bee Hive

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European Honey Bee Hive

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European Honey Bee Hive in a drain

Vertical color photograph of a beehive up in a tree.  The hive is covered with what looks like thousands of bees.

 European Honey Bee Hive in a tree

Bee Hive in a tree

European Honey Bee Hive in a tree

Get to know the Banded Sugar Ant

(Camponotus consobrinus) (Image by Queensland Government)

Image_Queensland Government_Banded Sugar Ant

 Appearance

  • The length of the banded sugar ant is 10mm.
  • The banded sugar ant is orange-brown in colour with a black head. The rear of the abdomen is black with two dull bands.
  • The banded sugar ant has strong mandibles (jaws).

Life cycle

  • Like all ants, the banded sugar ant begins life as an egg. If the egg is fertilised, it becomes a female; if not, it will become a male.
  • They develop through complete metamorphosis (transformation) meaning that they pass through a larvae and pupae stage before emerging as adults.

Habitat

  • You will find the banded sugar ant in bush-land, woodland and suburban areas.
  • Banded sugar ants are nocturnal and workers are mostly encountered at dusk when they are foraging for food.
  • The banded sugar ant is Omnivore (eats meat and plants). They eat sugar and other sweet food. Sugar ants collect honeydew made by plant-eating insects, mainly aphids.
  • Banded sugar ant nests are found in holes in wood, between rocks, roots of plants and in soil. In soil, they leave a large dirt mound around the entrance of the hole.

Good – The Banded sugar ant is native to Australia. They are beneficial to the environment as they are omnivores that control pest insects such as cockroaches, some beetle’s species, earwigs, aphids, any dead animals and as well as nectar and plant.

Danger to humans and first aid

The Banded Sugar Ant does not pose any threat to humans but they have strong mandibles (jaws) and can give a painful bite. The banded sugar ant is considered a household pest and is occasionally seen in houses at night.
An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Control

  • Most ants are scavengers, there are more likely to infest a house or property if hygiene is poor, sanitation is very important.
  • Keep inside and outside of properties food particles free.
  • Wash up and clean all areas where food is prepared or consumed, these areas may include kitchen benches, shelves, draws, floors, tables and chairs.
  • Outdoor areas should also be free of any types of food sources e.g. bones, left over pet food or BBQ.
  • Sap-sucking or pest insects on plants may aid to support and encourage a range of any ant species. Treating these pest insects will reduce the infestations of ants.

Chemical Control

If the control measures above are unsuccessful and the ants are becoming a nuisance, then a chemical method can be applied.

Before using a chemical method, it is best that a thorough inspection be carried out by following trails, particularly where ants are carrying food back to the nest. Direct treatment of the nest, where possible, can provide the most effective long term control. Where a nest cannot be located, a residual barrier can be applied to cracks and crevices where the ants are traveling to the food source. These chemicals come in the forms of liquid or dust.

Always follow product labels to ensure appropriate use.

Get to know the Sydney Funnel-web Spider

(Atrax robustus)

Sydney Funnel-web Spider

Probably the most notorious of all spiders, Sydney Funnel-webs have a frightening reputation. Most of this is warranted, but some is exaggerated.

Appearance

  • Size range of a Sydney Funnel-web spider is 15 mm – 35 mm long
  • Sydney Funnel-webs are shiny, dark brown to black spiders with finger-like spinnerets (silk spinning organs) at the end of their abdomen.
  • Males have a large mating spur projecting from the middle of their second pair of legs.
  • If threatened, Sydney Funnel-webs show aggressive behaviour, rearing

Life cycle

  • Males reach sexual maturity at four years of age, females are a year later.
  • Males leave their burrows and wander (roam) over summer and autumn to find females to mate with.
  • When the weather conditions are suitable, i.e. after heavy rain when the ground is soaked and the air is humid, the mature male starts wandering in search of a mate.
  • Females spend almost their whole life in their burrows and await the arrival of a potential suitor.
    The male then takes his life in his hands by attracting the female out of her burrow and soothing her to allow him to mate rather than becoming her next meal!
  • The female produces an egg-sack containing a hundred or so eggs and stores it in her burrow until the spiderlings hatch.
  • Males usually die 6-8 months after reaching maturity, while females may continue to breed for several more years.

Habitat

  • The Sydney Funnel-web Spider are found in New South Wales, from Newcastle to Nowra and west to Lithgow.
  • They especially favour the forested highland areas surrounding the lower, more open country of the central Cumberland Basin. This includes the Hornsby Plateau to the north, the foothills of the Blue Mountains to the west, and the Woronora Plateau to the south.
  • Funnel-web sightings are low in much of central-western Sydney, and also the sandy coastal parts of the eastern suburbs and the Botany Bay area.
  • Funnel-webs burrow in sheltered areas, such as under logs and rocks where they can find cool and humid climate. Funnel-webs charge out of their burrow when potential prey, such as beetles, cockroaches, small lizards or snails, walk across the silken trip-lines that the spider has placed around the outside of its burrow. They then return to their burrow to eat their meal.

Good – The Sydney Funnel-web spider, although very dangerous to human beings, are beneficial to the environment as they control the numbers of other pest insects, such as cockroaches, earwigs and millipedes.

Danger to humans and first aid

Funnel-web bites are dangerous and first aid should be given immediately using the pressure bandage/immobilisation technique (same as a snake bite) and the victim taken to hospital and given antivenom if necessary. The venom has a neurotoxin component that attacks the human nervous system and, in the worst cases, can result in death. However, there have been no fatalities since the introduction of antivenom.

Get to know the Spider Wasp (Mud-dauber Sp.)

(Pompilidae Sp) Image by CSIRO

ID00035Spider waspInsectaHymenopteraPompilidaeHeterodontonyx bicoloradult femaleCanberra, ACTKRPDMCC23/07/2002

Click here for images of Spider Wasp Nests (same as the Mud-dauber Wasp Nest)

Appearance

  • Size range of a Spider wasp is .5 cm – 3.5 cm long.
  • Colour of the Spider wasp is black.
  • The spider wasp has orange wings and legs and a broad orange band around its abdomen.
  • The spider wasp holds its wings up when resting but flicks them when it runs and hops about on it long legs.

Life cycle

  • Spider wasps dig burrows using their long spines on their front legs and then search quickly on the ground and around tree trunks for a spider.
  • Some spider wasps sting and paralyse a spider and then lay an egg on it but do not dig a burrow to put it in, instead the larva hatches and feeds on the body of the spider before pupating in a thin silky cocoon, in the cell.
  • There are four stages in the mud-dauber life cycle, egg-larvae-cocoon-wasp, from egg to wasp takes around 3 weeks.

Habitat

  • Spider wasps are solitary wasps.
  • Spider wasps are often seen digging in sandy soil and dragging huntsman spiders along. Some species are known to bite off the legs of larger spiders, trimming them in order to make them easier to handle.
  • They prey on spiders to feed their larvae and/or will parasitise other spider wasps to feed their larvae.
  • Some spider wasps have scales that help them walk on spiders’ webs, allowing them to sneak up and attack the spider.
  • Spider wasps will prey upon small house spiders to large spiders like a large huntsman.
  • They do not form colonies to defend nests and are not aggressive.
  • Spider wasps are active in gardens during spring/summer months.

Danger to humans and first aid

Spider wasps have potentially a painful sting, however they are not aggressive and are unlikely to use their venom on humans unless extremely provoked.
If stung, an ice pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Good – The Spider wasp is native to Australia. The spider wasp is beneficial to the environment as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. If the nest is not in a high traffic area or no one in the household is allergic to bees and wasps, they are good to have around.

Control

The Spider wasp is beneficial to the environment as they control spiders, aphids and other pest insects. If the nest is not in a high traffic area or no one in the household is allergic to bees and wasps, they are good to have around.

Always seek professional advice before treating wasps or nests, do not treat wasps or nests if you are allergic to bees or wasps.
Always use a register can of insecticide, the can must have a wasp symbol/image on it.

Best time to treat Spider wasps/nests

The best time to treat Spider wasps or the nest is late in the evening when wasp activity is low. Spider wasps tend to rest overnight under bark, leaves, crack or crevices but also may be found on their nest. Before removing the nest, be sure the wasps are not on or in the nest. If the wasps are on the nest, you need to destroy the wasps first, (see How to apply insecticide). Once the wasps are gone/destroyed, you can wash or smash down the nest.

Protective Clothing

Wear protective clothing when treating a mud-dauber nest, protective clothing includes a bee veil, hat, long sleeved overalls or long pants, long sleeved jumper/hoodie, gloves and protective eye wear.

How to apply insecticide

Wind should always be coming from behind you, and blowing towards the mud-dauber wasps or nest, holding the registered can of insecticide in an upright position, stand a safe distance from the mud-dauber nest and not directly underneath the nest, the spray should reach the nest. Spray using a sweeping motion to saturate the nest.
When the mud dauber wasps are dead, you can remove the nest by hosing it down or knock it down with a stick.

Do not use this method or any other method for European Wasp nests, always engage a professional Pest Controller to treat a European wasp nest.