'Utterly terrifying' nest creeps out Auckland community - but what is it?

Left image of a rural house set among trees, right image a close-up of nest
The nest has terrified an Auckland community group on Facebook - but what does it belong to? Photo credit: Left - Getty Images; Right - Darren Pilosi / Birkenhead and Northcote Community - Facebook

A bizarre nest has been branded as "creepy" and "utterly terrifying" by an Auckland community after pictures of the bug breeding ground were shared to social media.

In a post to the Birkenhead and Northcote Community Facebook group on Monday, a woman appealed to the public for help identifying the sizeable nest.

"Anyone know what kind of nest this is?" the woman asked.

But the plea for information was met largely with horror by alarmed locals, who were quick to share their disgust in the comments.

"I think you need an exorcist for that," one woman joked.

"How do I unsee these photos? Instructions please," said another, while one woman acknowledged its resemblance to something out of the hit sci-fi series, Stranger Things.

"Move out," another advised.

Other responses were more helpful, with one pest control expert confirming German wasps were the creepy-crawly culprit.

"If there are no guards around the nest then it is empty," Jonathan from the Auckland-based pest control company, Smash'd Em Pest Control, advised. "No other wasps will reinfest it as it breaks down over time. If you are seeing wasps flying in and out then it would be best to get it treated."

Speaking to Newshub on Tuesday, Jonathan offered some more information about German wasps and their homes of horror.

He said the insects, which are commonly found across New Zealand, typically inhabit forested and rural areas.

"German wasps, also known as yellow jackets in other countries, are quite dangerous. They aggressively defend their nests and [can] swarm very quickly," Jonathan explained. 

He said the most obvious sign of a German wasp infestation is heavy 'wasp traffic' moving back and forth like ants. 

Pictures of the nest were shared to the public Facebook group along with an appeal for information.
Pictures of the nest were shared to the public Facebook group along with an appeal for information. Photo credit: Birkenhead and Northcote Community / Facebook

"Wasps [may] come and go from a gap in your roof, from the ground under a shrub, in a field, from a hole in a tree, etc," he said. "The continuous traffic indicates the entry to a nest is very close by."

Jonathan says the size of the nest shared to the Facebook group is a common find at this time of year.

"This is a fully mature nest which looks almost disbanded. Once the weather cools right down and the first frost comes in, the workers and the queen dies," he explained.

"Beforehand though, approximately 200 new queens have emerged, mated and tucked themselves away to emerge in spring. These dormant queens are often found in roof voids, which coincides with finding nests in roof voids also."

What to do if a nest is found around your home

If German wasps have taken up residence in your home, it might be tempting to try and evict the creepy-crawlies yourself - but Jonathan says kicking out the unwelcome tenants comes with a risk.

"They will come off worse most times," he said.

Rural home among trees
Pest control expert Jonathan said German wasps are typically found in rural and forested areas nationwide. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Wasp nests have guards posted 24/7 which are just itching to attack something. Being able to sting continuously, wasps have no problem going for you repetitively… very uncomfortable indeed.

"It's important an expert takes care of it quickly and painlessly. Experts have the correct protective clothing, tools and experience to do the job."

In an update to the original post, the woman said the nest has been confirmed as "dormant".

"Thanks everyone for your input and a good laugh," she said.