Viciously Attacked in My Own Back Garden!

It’s been a long time since I last had an intruder on my property. During the first year of this blog, 2009, I had a whole bunch of them. Let’s take a wander down memory lane to remind ourselves of just a few of the beasts (or cuties) that have wandered into my home or garden.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the last intruder I actually had in my home was that snake, but nobody wants to see that again, do they?

I read in one of those old posts that I had counted 22 different kinds of intruders in total at that time, so who knows how many I’ve had by now.

I’m still here though, and I haven’t been hurt by any of them. Until last week.

So, who got me?

Actually, I was set upon by a gang. Well, the correct terminology would be a swarm. Yes, I got nailed by wasps. Not the cute kind of wasp I’ve already mentioned above in my list, any of you who clicked on that link will know I quite liked the potter wasp.

On the other hand, I didn’t much care for the four native paper wasps that stung me as I was picking up some weeds in the garden. Here’s the story…

This is the wall in my back garden.

WallI was picking up some weeds from the brown gravel floor underneath the trampoline here…

weedsOf course, you can’t see the weeds, I picked them up. Although if you look underneath the trampoline, there are still some weeds there, that’s as far as I got before I was viciously ambushed.

Because unbeknown to me, in a little crevice in my wall was a wasp’s nest. And it was dangerously close to the trampoline. It was right here…

Nest 1It gets worse, on closer inspection, there were three native paper wasps nests that were all very close to the trampoline and swing set my daughter and her friends often play on…

All nests

Let’s take a closer look. For those who need to know, I got attacked by the residents from nest 2…

Nest 1 closup

Nest 1

Nest 2 closup

Nest 2

Nest 3 closup

Nest 3

Each one of these nests had wasps a coming and going, hanging around, doing what they do, and the space in front of my wall was like a wasp High Street. look, there’s one…

A waspAnyway, they’re all dead now, there was a fire. Well, three fires. I don’t know how they started, honest. Terrible thing really.

But at least my daughter and her friends can now play in the garden without fear of being viciously attacked by these overly aggressive Australian bad things.

The Sting

Ah, yes, the sting! I know you all want to know what actually happened? Did it hurt? Did you get rushed to hospital?

It gets stranger and stranger.

Before all this, I’d only ever been stung by a wasp once in my life, I would have been about nine or 10 years of age. Boy did it hurt! From that day on, I’ve always hated wasps and have kind of panicked when they start buzzing around me when I’ve been trying to eat a picnic or whatever.

But I’d never been stung since. Until…

The day before this episode, I got stung by a wasp. It wasn’t one of these nasty native paper wasps, I actually think it was one of the nice guys, the potter wasp. Unfortunately for him, he had somehow got caught inside my T-shirt.

Poor chap must have been beside himself, trapped as he was. No way out either, he was right at the back of my shoulder. I felt a slight pain and when I went to investigate, I could feel a lump inside my T-shirt with my fingers.

I took my T-shirt off, shook it a bit, and out fell this wasp and he didn’t look too healthy. I picked the poor chap up on a piece of paper and took him outside, placing him carefully on the wall. He’d gone 10 minutes later, so who knows, maybe he survived.

The sting itself was almost insignificant, caused me less irritation than a mosquito bite.

Now, back to these nasty, vicious native paper wasps. Picking up the weeds, I got too close to their nest, which, according to my wildlife book they “defend their nests using their powerful stings, which can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.”

Anyway, I was picking up the weeds when all of a sudden I felt four simultaneous sharp pains, three in my knee and one on the back of my hand. Wow did it hurt! I looked up, I could see five or six wasps all buzzing around me, so I did the sensible thing. I ran away screaming like a little girl, waving my arms around in the air doing an impression of a Chinook helicopter.

A couple of words I may not have wanted my daughter to hear probably crept out, and Mrs Bobinoz, hearing all the commotion, came out into the garden to ask “what’s up?

Danged wasps! #&%[email protected]!!!” I replied.

She brought me out a couple of ice packs to place on my knee and hand, and would you believe it, in less than 10 minutes it was as though nothing had happened. The immediate and spiteful burning pain just melted away into nothing.

No lumps, no marks, nothing.

I do respect all wildlife with the exception of cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, rats, mice and ……….. wasps.

So, I win. I’m not allergic, they are dead.

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{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Mark March 16, 2017, 3:16 pm | Link

    Got nailed by one of these suckers last week. All summer they’ve had a nest in the rafter of my carport. Must have walked under them back & forth a couple of hundred times without incident. All of a sudden one gets nasty & stung me on the neck. Little painful for about 15 minutes (didn’t bother with any ice), took an anti-histamine because I have had bad reactions to bee stings in the past. Left a nice welt on my neck which is still irritated & itchy at times even after a week. Might still be a bit of stinger in there or maybe minor infection, just keep putting some savlon on it now & again. Hopefully it will clear soon. Needless to say the nest got a dose of surface spray from a upwind safe area & when the area was clear knocked it off with a broom. When they returned to try & find the nest I’d hit ’em with some fly spray. They all gone now. The larvae in the nest were still wriggling around 2 days later waiting for their supper.

    • BobinOz March 16, 2017, 7:08 pm | Link

      Yes, it only takes one pesky wasp out of the whole nest to ruin it for everyone. When will these wasps learn? They always start it, either one of them or they attack as a gang, they inflict a small amount of pain on their victim and then the victim wipes out the whole lot of them with one devastating and final spray.

      They need to drop the aggression, you would have thought they would have learnt that by now? 🙂

  • Merri March 15, 2017, 4:03 pm | Link

    We are now into our 4th paper wasp nest/colony this summer – 3 of which have been within 3m of our back doors! Gets bad when you can’t even step outside. Yes, we are nature lovers (we RESCUE spiders, bees, crickets, frogs, lizards and even brown snakes) but our love does not now extend to these hyper-vigilant assassins with a sting like no other we have known. Best and safest way to eliminate the colony is to wait until dark or first thing in the morning when the adults are not active. A generous shot of surface spray does the trick but don’t wait around to check as even then the adults emerge to defend. PS we love our medium sized AND our giant orange mud tunnelling wasps!

    • BobinOz March 15, 2017, 11:50 pm | Link

      Good advice Merri and I’m with you all the way on it. Like yourself, I rescue little critters, spiders in the jar to gently drop them outside, lizards being attacked by cats, that sort of thing. But with these wasps, it’s every man for himself. They take no prisoners so why should we?

      I had a nest within 2 metres of my swimming pool last week, the girls went swimming and one of them got stung. Just as you suggest, I went out to the nest late in the evening, a can of Raid pest spray in my hand, and just to make occasion of it, I wore a longsleeved hooded PVC rain jacket and long trousers to make myself resemble a beekeeper as closely as possible.

      Then I sprayed the life out of them. With my added protection, I was able to hang around and keep spraying, Rambo like, just to make sure I got them all. Nothing worse than a lone angry paper wasp tracking you down later to seek revenge. Or maybe I’ve seen too many movies 🙂

      It’s much safer than my previous method, mentioned above, which involved a cigarette lighter, an aerosol spray can and a bit of flame throwing.

      I wouldn’t do it to one of those big orange wasps though, as you say, they are lovely.

  • Bret Kiwan March 13, 2017, 8:35 am | Link

    Thought I’d share my experience with you. I got just one bite on my fore arm from a paper wasp after I felt something in my hair , I brushed it away. Yes it hurt
    for a few minutes and I put ice on it straight away. Also took some claratyne (antihistamine)
    All was good for a week until I started swelling in my glands under side of my arms neck and back. I was very itchy and not a happy soul. I went to the hospital for a few jabs in the [email protected] and I’ve been better but still not 100% over it all as I’m still a little bit ichy in spots.
    So next time I’m heading straight to hospital just incase.

    • BobinOz March 13, 2017, 9:10 pm | Link

      That’s a really unusual reaction, for something to happen after a week. Just goes to show that everybody does react differently to these kinds of stings. Hope it all calms down for you soon.

  • Mixter4 September 6, 2016, 7:06 pm | Link

    After the initial shock of being stung the pain wears off in around 10-20 seconds and you actually feel good afterwards, I often wondered if there was something in the venom that could be useful in medical scince ? Most times I have been stung in the process of mowing and inadvertently brushed up against the nest, so would blame myself lucky I am not allergic.

    • BobinOz September 7, 2016, 12:40 am | Link

      And the reason you feel so good afterwards is because you realise the pain has stopped so quickly! I have to agree with you here, it’s really painful when it happens, and you jump around, you rub your wounds, you might curse a little, and then all of a sudden you think ‘hold on, its stopped hurting.’

      I know I said 10 minutes in my article, but I think you are closer with your 10 to 20 seconds. Maybe that strange acting venom could be put to good use somewhere, but I suspect we will need to leave that to the scientists.

      • Chris Wells January 15, 2017, 10:23 am | Link

        I got stung on Tuesday when I bumped a low hanging branch while putting the bin back and the nest fell on me, I think I only got one sting but it might have been two or three in the same spot as i initially had 3 white lumps very close together. By that night my arm was swollen and very red and very itchy and sore. Sunday it is still red but the swelling is going down and the itch has 90% gone.

        I assume I am allergic to them based on how you say within 10 minutes you feel fine.

        • BobinOz January 15, 2017, 8:25 pm | Link

          Yes, it is possible you may be a little allergic to their sting, but are you sure you were definitely stung by a native paper wasp? We do have lots of different kinds of wasps in this country and I suspect each delivers a different kind of pain.

          I’m no doctor, but I believe in allergic reaction to a sting normally involves a more scary response from the body than you have experience. Things like nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, that sort of stuff.

          So maybe you’re not allergic, maybe it was just a different kind of wasp. It would be worth you trying to find out for sure though, because if you are allergic to this kind of thing, it’s good to know. That way you can always prepare for a potential emergency.

  • Celeste July 26, 2016, 11:50 am | Link

    Paper wasps basically build their nests anywhere there’s an opening. My mother found one in our front sliding window. My mother had carelessly left the window opened wide enough for them to build their nest in the corner of the window. My mom had to kill them with a wasp killer.
    we both knew that if we had left them alone long enough the nest would have gotten so big that it would have popped the window right out of its frame.

    • BobinOz July 26, 2016, 5:05 pm | Link

      Your mum did the right thing, you really don’t want to be sharing your house with a nest of paper wasps or living in one with a missing window 🙂

  • James July 26, 2016, 7:58 am | Link

    The common paper wasp is generally quite docile unless you are way too close to their nests… I used to have like 8 small nests in my back yard and they were fine i would literally walk past their nests only being 2 inches away, they never stung would fly into us but never did more than that the only reasons we had them removed was because my younger siblings were innocently curious and they nested in our AC other than that we didn’t mind their company.

    • BobinOz July 26, 2016, 4:58 pm | Link

      Well, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say a common paper wasp James, my insect Bible only mentions native paper wasps and of those it says “Paper wasps aggressively defend their nest using their powerful stings…” and “Nests should be carefully removed from frequently used areas.”

      I was a good metre or more away, maybe a couple of meters and these critters certainly came after me in numbers.

  • Rob July 18, 2016, 4:21 pm | Link

    Just got one sting from a nest in a fallen tree, thought to myself “”there’s a few flying insects there” and bingo, right on the chin, one of them followed ,me for about 150 metres before I outran him, or he gave up … A different path for me on the next dog walk. As has been said, a mighty sting but now almost gone after 20 minutes, also took an antihistamine tablet … Have been done by them before whilst up a tree, not a very good place that be! …A quick descent and a couple more stings for my trouble …

    • BobinOz July 18, 2016, 8:35 pm | Link

      Yes, it’s definitely the best thing about these stings, the pain at last very long at all. Sounds like you were reasonably lucky to only get one sting as well, these things normally attack in a mob.

      Maybe you just ran too fast for them 🙂

  • alexandra seddon June 11, 2016, 9:08 am | Link

    So good if we could just change our perspective .
    It would be truly wonderful if we could see that it is we who are the intruders!
    Also, with the decline of bees worldwide, these native wasps have become vital for pollination.
    Orchardists and farmers in particular need them.
    We have a nest in one of our snake sunning boxes. (We are a wildlife sanctuary.) I am puzzling over the best way to move it, without harming ourselves or the wasps, so that the snake can continue being put out there on sunny days.
    Maybe at the coldest time of year?

    • BobinOz June 12, 2016, 9:18 pm | Link

      No, no, no, they were the intruders, it was my house! I’ve got documents to prove it!

      My house, my land, they trespassed 🙂

      I think you may need to employ the services of a bee/wasp expert, I think they can turn up in a white suit, spray some kind of magic solution around the nest and then just pick it up, put it in the box and relocate it.

      I’ve seen it done to a bee’s nest that was dangerously close to the pavement in the front garden of somebody’s house. It is quite amazing how they do it. Good luck, Bob

      • alexandra seddon June 16, 2016, 4:16 am | Link

        Thanks!
        I have borrowed two bee suits and got advice from amateur bee club, and will venture out, with another person, now to move the wasps….
        I love how you do not take yourself seriously.
        And I LOVE the observant and knowledgeable things you said about Grey-headed Flying-foxes. Lyssa Virus is So rare and you can only get it if you are scratched or bitten. Hendra virus can be transmitted from cats and horses, but somehow we do not demonise them.
        After 20 years research there is still no evidence that it can be transmitted by a flying-fox.
        Thankyou for translating Australian wildlife to people, and for bothering to get to know these amazing creatures!
        Alexandra

        • BobinOz June 16, 2016, 10:01 pm | Link

          Thanks Alexandra, I really appreciate your comments.

          I have only been here eight years or so, but I absolutely love Australia’s wildlife, pretty much all of it apart from the nasties I mention at the foot of the above article. The wildlife here is to be enjoyed, and treasured, and I love getting to know about these creatures and I’ve still got a very long way to go.

          Good luck getting rid of those wasps, I got rid of mine within five seconds, no suit required, but I daren’t tell you how here.

          Well, they started it!

    • Reality Check July 13, 2016, 1:14 am | Link

      “It would be truly wonderful if we could see that it is we who are the intruders!”

      Sorry, why are we the intruders? I hate to break it to you, but human beings are just as much a part of nature as wasps. It is an absolute fallacy to portray such conflicts as an intrusion on nature.

      Also, wasps do not pollinate (well, technically they do, very, very slightly. About as much any other flying insect does by arbitrarily making contact with plants). They do however eat other insects which *could* damage plants so they may have a small role to play, but it is largely parasitic. That doesn’t make them any less worthy of life, but don’t pretend that they are a vital ecological cog.

  • Steve March 26, 2016, 3:31 pm | Link

    Just got hammered bit time!. Was getting the clothes off the line and didn’t see the friggin huge nest in the middle on the crown of the rotary line. I even went back to try and get the rest when i got hit again, then saw the buggers!

    Been hit many times as i live in the bush, but today’s hit was by far the worst, both hands and all fingers as well as my arms are all swollen. Came inside before i knew I’d swell up, to see if anything special was needed to get the pain and swelling down. Taken me ages to type this, all my fingers are buggered 🙂

    More embarrassing than anything else really. Cant drive the car into town to get some… local anesthetic they issue here in cans and bottles, to start the healing process. hmmm Couldn’t hold the bloody can at the moment anyway.

    • BobinOz March 29, 2016, 12:06 am | Link

      Sounds like you must be a little bit allergic to these things Steve, you appear to have suffered quite a reaction to their vicious attack. I only got stung about four or five times, and whilst it hurt at first, I think within 10 or 15 minutes it was as if nothing had happened.

      Have you tried antihistamine tablets? Or maybe using a tumble dryer? 🙂

  • David hall February 28, 2016, 7:23 pm | Link

    Just got hammered 3times by the buggers. Speaking of hammered, it felt like someone had driven a nail into my finger with a hammer… And my chest… And my cheek. Ouch!

  • Aaron April 1, 2015, 5:20 pm | Link

    Nasty nasty flying bitey things these paper wasps.. I was on the roof of a house, about to clean the outside glass bedroom window.. Didn’t see the nest (to my detriment) until waay too late! Before I new it I was trying to run away, arms flailing & profanities flying thick & fast.. A total of 14 stings to the side of my face, jaw & neck. 1 on my forearm, & another 4 on my shoulders. Far out they hurt! They all swelled to the size of 50c pieces in a matter if minutes. @ the time, I didn’t realize what had happened (basic instinct kicked in, move away fast).. I’m lucky they didn’t keep swarming, cos I had about another 2m of roofline left & was about to jump off it. Now that would’ve been extremely painful / & or detrimental to my wellbeing xx

    • BobinOz April 1, 2015, 9:58 pm | Link

      Crikey! That’s one of the last places you want to be when these things swarm around you, on a roof. Sounds like they nailed you good and proper and as you’ve discovered, they attack mob handed when you get too close to their nest.

      You wouldn’t have jumped, would you?

      • Jill July 3, 2015, 5:12 pm | Link

        I was out cleaning an upstairs verandah today in Melbourne, it’s only about 10deg here today, when I saw this dried up, empty looking paper wasps nest hanging above the door frame…. so I knocked it down with my hand. I must say, I moved pretty fast when I saw at leat 20 wasps fall out of it! I’m not sure why, maybe it was too cold for them, or they were juveniles, but I managed to get safely inside without incident. Came back 5 minutes later, problem solved….Mortein is good

        • BobinOz July 3, 2015, 9:55 pm | Link

          When hibernation is go wrong 🙂

          Serves them right, vicious critters!

  • Tim January 12, 2015, 9:02 pm | Link

    Nice description of the attack. Haven’t laughed that hard in a while. I god done by those little blighters 3 days ago which led me here. I was pruning a hedge and had my arms above my head with the clippers when they got me right on the left Man Boob. I though a spider had dropped down my shirt or something. Same deal, ran away screaming trying to get my shirt off in the panic. My pain also went after some ice and a short period but, a day later it has brought up a pretty red area that is as itchy as hell.

    • BobinOz January 13, 2015, 8:33 pm | Link

      Well, we have to look back and and laugh, don’t we?

      Not pleasant is it Tim, I hope you got them back. Hunt them down one by one, you know it will make you feel better.

      • Deeofthejay March 2, 2015, 6:57 pm | Link

        So yesterday, I was minding my own business trimming the Camelia hedge and I stumbled across a nest. I didn’t see it but I knew about it alright as I was stung three times on the back of my hand, once on my wrist and once or twice near the elbow (I can’t see that bit). The pain did ease after about fifteen minutes, although I got some swelling in the evening. However that was the least of my worries as it has swollen up like the proverbial football today, even though I went to the pharmacist to get anti-inflammatories and first aid cream. It is itchy as anything and quite painful. This is my third time stung by wasps here in Oz. I was stung once by a wasp in England – that was a doddle in comparison.

        • BobinOz March 2, 2015, 9:26 pm | Link

          Sounds painful, they certainly did more damage to you than they did to me. So they were either kind of wasps or you’ve had a bit of an allergic reaction and I didn’t. Hope that swelling goes down soon, and I also hope you have taken care of that nest, don’t want that happen again do you?

  • Sílen November 20, 2014, 11:23 pm | Link

    Megadoses of Vitamin C can help allergic people, it’s ‘the safest, most powerful, cheapest and most effective antihistamine-antitoxin in existence’. Here you can find more information about it: http://www.doctoryourself.com/allergies.html.

    • BobinOz November 21, 2014, 10:58 pm | Link

      Interesting article, I will get my wife to test it out, she has allergies every now and then, grass and cats are the cause I think. Thanks, Bob

  • Scott February 17, 2014, 10:38 pm | Link

    I got stung on the weekend. The pain is tremendous! I was beside myself in agony. We have electric fences on our farm in Far Northern NSW so ‘pinging’ them off is not an option and because of said fences brush cutting is a regular maintenance feature and that’s how I was stung – brush cutting a fence line. They get me at least once every summer.

    • BobinOz February 18, 2014, 5:45 pm | Link

      Yes, it is quite spiteful, isn’t it? It’s like an instant burning that literally has you involuntarily shouting out words you really would not want to be shouting near children.

      If you manage to spot a nest, that’s trouble waiting to happen. As I think I suggest in my article, they do not like fire. I’m talking quick bursts of fire, the type produced by some kind of flamethrower.

      Pesky things!

  • Gordon February 11, 2013, 8:47 pm | Link

    I too got stung as a small child , right on the cheek , I actually had a phobia of flying stinging insects for years afterwards ! As a kid growing up in the Sydney area we encountered Red Bullant nests which are ground based , these are actually quite an ancient species of ant . These are an ant up to about 30 mm long . With a sting in the tail. As little kids do , we tormented them , to our detriment ! The pain lasts for hours .

    When coming across a nest and viewing it from a “safe”distance of 1-2 metres , a little kid did not realise that the colonies’ soldiers ranged considerably outside that radius , and paid the consequences ! Pain is a very effective learning tool in nature .

    More recently , although I thought I had left Bull ants behind since I moved to Queensland , during the recent floods and getting a boat or two out of the trees , I first heard of the “jumping ant’ which can inhabit river banks ( to which my Dad can testify from fist hand experience )

    These Jumping ants are of the same family as the Bull ant and pack an equally impressive punch .

    I’ve lived in this country for 53 years and have only just heard about these !

    Nature always amazes me with its diversity , I am constantly reminded of what a fantastic planet we live on , and the reminder that we all have to care of it , for our and all the future .

    • BobinOz February 12, 2013, 9:39 pm | Link

      Haha, in Brazil that young kid who fell foul of all those bull ants would have been slapped on the back and told he was now an adult!

      Yes, it certainly is an amazing planet, I think all of us learn something new about it every day no matter how old we are. Fantastic!

  • Gordon February 9, 2013, 8:02 pm | Link

    I often see those paper hornet nests hanging from the barbed wire fences on my property ( acreage ) when I am mowing the fence lines , I keep an eye out for them and when i see a nest I stop and pull on the wire like a bow and ping the entire nest off of the wire !

    I’ve been stung by them several times before I developed that strategy but while the initial pain does make you sit up and take notice , it does subside rapidly after 10 – 15 minutes .

    A friend of mine once spotted a massive nest under the eaves of his two storey house and grabbed the only thing long enough to jab at the nest to try and dislodge it , a 6 metre length of 2″ PVC tubing , he jabbed , he prodded , he found out quite quickly that they came down the pipe and arrived at his hands and head area 🙂

    I think events like these are called “one of lifes lessons” 😉

    Great description Bob , you gave me a chuckle 😀

    • BobinOz February 11, 2013, 4:45 pm | Link

      I was really shocked, and pleasantly surprised, how quickly that pain went away. As you say, the initial pain really is quite something.

      I now regularly patrol my wall looking in all the little nooks and crannies, I really wouldn’t want my daughter or any of her friends getting set upon by these things, as I mentioned in my post, I know what it’s like to get stung when you are a young child.

      Glad I gave you a chuckle Gordon 🙂

      Cheers

      Bob

  • Sean Foster February 6, 2013, 8:17 pm | Link

    Just a bit of useless pub quiz knowledge, but wasps and most other insects actually home in on the carbon dioxide in your breath.
    There was an experiment done a few years back where someone put on a protective suit, with bee keepers hat etc. and breathed through a long pipe that ran about 20 meters away from him. He could actually touch a wasps nest and the inhabitants just buzzed around him as though he was a nearby bush. As soon as he took the pipe out of his mouth they went for him in what seemed like a frenzied attack!
    So if you see any more, just hold your breath!

    • BobinOz February 8, 2013, 7:36 pm | Link

      I knew mosquitoes home in on our carbon dioxide, but I didn’t know wasps did as well. Unfortunately, as far as I’m aware, holding your breath won’t cut it. I think we actually excrete carbon dioxide from our skin, so the darn things will still nail us anyway,

      In that experiment, I imagine the protective suit put a stop to those skin excretions, but I can’t imagine myself wearing one of those while cooking on the barbecue 🙂

      Cheers Sean!

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