Bees, Wasps and Mosquitoes

Wellington Shire Council is responsible for minimising the impact of European wasps, bees and mosquitos on the shire.

 

European Wasps

European wasps can cause major concern, especially during the summer when outdoor dining increases as wasps are attracted to sweet food and meat.

European wasps can sting but generally only when aggravated. Unlike a bee, the European wasp can sting multiple times. If left undisturbed, the European wasp is not aggressive to humans or other animals. If a nest is disturbed, wasps release a chemical which triggers the other wasps to defend the nest. Follow basic first aid steps if stung by European wasps.

Responsibility for the eradication of nests depends on whether the nest is located on council land or private property. Special care needs to be taken with eradication.

 

Wasp Nests - Council Land
Report nests of European wasps and bees located on council land in areas where the public frequent and we will arrange for the treatment and eradication of nests as soon as possible.

Wasp Nests - Private Property
Nests located on private property are the responsibility of the property owner or in some circumstances the tenant, who must either arrange for the nest to be eradicated by a pest control company or treat the nest themselves.

You can report nests on private properties to Council's Environmental Health Unit, however if a nuisance is present it is the owners responsibility to have it removed.

 

Locating a Nest

In order to eradicate European wasps the nest must be located. Nests are often underground and located where shelter is available. The nest is made of grey paper mache type material and is evident by a stream of wasps entering and leaving the nest. Please note that wasps may travel up to 500 metres from their nest to locate food sources. 

 

Discouraging European Wasps

  • Do not leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around your yard
  • Make sure rubbish bins have tight fitting lids
  • Cover exposed food, picnics and BBQs
  • Keep your swimming pool covered when not in use
  • Avoid leaving uneaten pet food and dog bones outside
  • Keep compost heaps and bins covered at all times
  • Cover bird baths or fish ponds with shade cloth or fine mesh
  • Remove ivy from the garden; wasps find it very attractive and frequently nest in strands of ivy
  • Cover all windows with fly screens
  • Keep yards tidy and remove any leaf litter from gardens
  • Do not drink out of cans or bottles - use a straw or glass receptacle
  • Do not leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around your yard

 

Bees

Bees are an important part of our environment. Bees typically swarm in spring when a queen and part of the honey bee colony leave the parent colony to establish a new hive.

After leaving the hive, the swarm will generally settle on a post, tree branch or similar while scout bees search for a suitable new home. The bees will generally form a football shape around the queen to protect her. While they are clustered like this they are easily collected and hived by people used to handling bees.

Provided the swarm is not aggravated they should not present a danger to people. The swarm will typically move off after a couple of days. Once the bees have established a nest, they can no longer be collected by a bee keeper and need to be eradicated by a pest control company with chemicals.

 

Bee Swarms and Nests - Council Land
If a bee swarm or nest is located in a main thoroughfare for people on council land, please contact Council's Environmental Health Unit who can arrange to have the swarm removed.

Bee Swarms and Nests - Private Property
Bee swarms and nests located on private property must be treated by the property owner. You can report swarms or nests on private properties to Council's Environmental Health Unit, however if a nuisance is present it is the owners responsibility to have it removed.

 

After eradication, the entrances to the nest and other nearby holes should be sealed to prevent the entry by other swarms. Do not consume the honeycomb as it may contain traces of chemicals. Do not remove honeycomb until all bee activity has ceased.

 

Mosquitos

Council runs a Mosquito Control Program from November to the end of April each year under the direction and guidelines of the Department of Health, Victoria. The program is primarily aimed at reducing the number of mosquitos affecting our coastal townships to reduce the incidence of mosquito borne illnesses such as Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus.

 

Mosquito Facts

  • Mosquitos can grow from an egg to an adult in seven days depending on the environmental conditions of their breeding site
  • Diseases spread by mosquitos are known as arbovirus and in Victoria include Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus
  • Breeding sites can include fresh, salt, clean or polluted waters depending on the species
  • Female mosquitos bite as they need a blood meal to develop their eggs
  • Female mosquitos can lay up to 200 eggs at a time
  • Mosquitos find us by the carbon dioxide we exhale and to some extent, the colour of the clothes we wear 

 

Mosquito Control Program

The areas covered by the mosquito control program in Wellington Shire are near coastal townships bordering the Gippsland Lakes and Lake Reeve. These areas are known as salt marsh, which make for ideal breeding areas for Ochlerotatus camptorhynchus, a species known to transmit Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus. These areas can be inundated by rain, floods and wind induced high tides.

There are 55 identified breeding sites covered by the program, ranging in size from a few square metres to many hectares which are monitored when suspected of breeding mosquitoes.

Adult mosquito trapping is carried out on a weekly basis during the season along the northern shores of Lake Wellington and the McLennan Straits. This is in order to identify the species present, the prevalence in the area and to test for the presence of arboviruses.

 

Larval Control
Larval control is carried out when first instar larvae are detected at the breeding site by the mosquito monitors. Spraying is completed generally using an eight wheel drive all terrain vehicle on tracks.

The control agent is dispersed through a boom spray. Control agents used are BTI (bacillis thuringiensis var israelensis) or IGR (insect growth regulator).

Adult Control
Adult control, called fogging, is undertaken on a very limited basis using a Pyrethrum product.

 

Protection from Mosquitos

Protect Yourself
It is important during mosquito breeding months to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Here are some ways to prevent being bitten:

  • Attach insect screens to the windows and doors of your house to allow air in and keep mosquitoes out
  • Avoid outside areas at dawn and dusk
  • Use recommended repellents
  • Wear loose fitting clothing which covers arms and legs
  • Use mosquito coils and repellents to discourage mosquitoes
     

Protect Your Property
Your own property may be creating breedings sites for mosquitos. Regularly inspect your property and ensure there is no stagnant water lying around. Here is how to prevent your property becoming a haven for mosquitos:

  • Dispose of all tins, tyres and other rubbish containers that may hold water
  • Put sand around bases of pot plants to absorb excess water in the dish
  • Keep swimming pools chlorinated, salted or empty them completely when not in use for considerable periods
  • Empty children’s wading pools regularly
  • Overturn boats and dinghies or remove the drain plug so they do not hold water
  • Empty flower vases, pot plants and other receptacles that hold water at least once a week
  • Drill holes in tyres used for swings, playgrounds and garden surrounds to allow water to drain
  • Empty bird baths and pets’ drinking water at least once a week
  • Prevent leaking taps which can maintain semi-permanent pools
  • Flush disused outside toilets once a week
  • Keep fish ponds stocked with fish
  • Remove weeds and grass from drains to enable them to drain freely
  • Keep roof guttering in good repair and regularly remove leaves and debris so that pools of water do not form
  • Keep lawns and gardens well maintained so that you are not providing shelter for adult mosquitos
  • Prune trees and shrubs to a height of 1.5m to allow wind to flow
  • Use residual sprays to kill and deter adult mosquitos
  • Keep any tops, lids, covers and inlet pipes close fitting
  • Keep outlet and over-flow pipes fitted with removable screen mesh
  • Keep all water inlets entering the tanks screened with mesh to stop adult mosquitos entering
     

To request a copy of the Gippsland Lakes and Mosquito Management brochure please contact the Environmental Health Office. Additional information on mosquito control and disease prevention can also be found on the Victorian Government Better Health Channel Website.

 

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