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Pest and Wild Animal Management

Rats, mosquitos, cockroaches and European wasps are common pests that are of public health concern. They are nuisance pests that are capable of carrying disease and contaminating foods. The City of Adelaide is working with residents and businesses to prevent and minimise the presence of these pests. Please be aware of wild animals, bats, possums and snakes in the Park Lands and take care not to touch.


Mosquitoes are a biting, irritating nuisance that also carry disease. They peak during the summer months, because of stagnant water laying around in natural wetlands and low lying areas from the winter, spring and early summer rains. Combined with increased vegetation these conditions are likely to provide ideal breeding and harbourage for mosquitoes.

Protect yourself against mosquitos by:

  • Fitting effective screens to windows, doors, chimneys and wall vents.
  • Screening and or sealing openings to rainwater tanks, septic tanks, drains, vents and soakage systems.
  • Replacing poor draining gutters, remove old tyres and old containers holding water.
  • Ensuring ornamental ponds are stocked with fish.
  • Using residual insecticide and knockdown sprays recommended for use in the home or when camping.
  • Campers ensuring tents and caravans are suitably screened or otherwise use mosquito nets.
  • Wearing long, light-coloured and lose-fitting clothing along with mosquito repellent when outdoors.
  • Reschedule barbecues and similar activities to earlier in the day when mosquitos are less active.

By taking simple precautions and using common sense, people living adjacent to or visiting natural wetlands, or low lying areas can protect themselves from mosquito bites and infection.

The City of Adelaide has a treatment program where stormwater side entry pits are treated to cut down mosquitoes breeding areas.

For more information, see: Mosquito control after floods and storms factsheet (PDF, 282Kb)


Rats are destructive and can spread disease. The Norway rat and the Roof rat are two common rats found in the City of Adelaide area. The Norway rat, commonly known as a Sewer rat, is not a good climber, instead building an elaborate system of tunnels and burrows at ground level. The Roof Rat also known as a Fruit Rat, prefers to live in trees, vines and other dense vegetation. It will infest rafters or roofs and the upper level of buildings.

Signs to look out for if you suspect you have rats on your property include:

  • Rat droppings; thin, black and 1cm in length.
  • Gnawings; rats gnaw to control teeth growth, usually on wood, soft metals, food containers and wiring.
  • Eaten food; fruit, vegetables and packed foods with teeth marks in them.
  • Rat runs; rats have poor vision and oily coats which mark walls along their path, leading to their shelter.
  • Sounds. Squeaking, gnawing or movement in cupboards, ceilings or under floors.

Rats can be discouraged by denying access to food and shelter:

  • Keep your yard clean and tidy; do not allow junk and garden waste to build up over time.
  • Store timber at least 30 cm above the ground. Do not store it on the ground or against sheds or fences.
  • Keep grass cut short around your property.
  • Regularly clean up fallen fruit or nuts from trees.
  • Store all poultry and animal food in metal bins with tight fitting lids.
  • Keep poultry areas and aviaries clean and tidy. Only allow enough food for each day.
  • Keep all food in a closed container. Keep the base of compost bins clear of vegetation and do not throw meat or dog faeces into the compost bin.
  • Waste storage areas should be kept clean; any food spills should be cleaned up immediately.

For more information, see: Rat Prevention Brochure (PDF, 440Kb)


Cockroaches carry a range of bacteria, causing allergies and disease. The most common Cockroaches that are encountered in the City of Adelaide area are the American Cockroach and the German Cockroach.

The American Cockroach is found in sewers and drains. They are long, reddish brown in colour and on warm nights often comes out from the drains. The German Cockroach is often found in food preparation areas. They live in warm areas such as around dishwashers, ovens, fridges and hot water systems. They are very small in size and are a light colour. Their eggs are often transported in cardboard boxes.

Cockroaches hide in many areas around the house, including:

  • Cracks in walls.
  • Confined spaces, such as behind the refrigerator or underneath a stack of cardboard boxes.
  • Any furniture items that are generally left undisturbed.
  • Kitchen cupboards.
  • Below sinks.
  • Around water heaters.
  • In drains and grease traps.
  • Gardens.

Steps to prevent or eliminate cockroaches include:

  • Clean the house thoroughly, paying special attention to the kitchen and other food preparation areas.
  • Clean regularly underneath the fridge, stove, toaster and other movable appliances.
  • Empty the kitchen's rubbish bin regularly.
  • Clean up any food spills promptly.
  • Make sure there are no sources of water, such as a dripping tap, since cockroaches need a steady water supply to survive.
  • Store food in containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Repair any holes, cracks or gaps in the walls, skirting boards and inside cupboards.
  • Don't stack newspapers, magazines or cardboard boxes anywhere in the house.
  • Keep compost bins screened and away from the house.
  • Maintain the garden regularly.
  • Use appropriate insecticide and follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly.
  • Use traps, such as greased margarine tubs containing a smear of honey as the lure - cockroaches will climb in for the food, but be unable to get out because of the grease (or oil) on the tub.


Both native bees and European Honeybees are prevalent in the Adelaide City Park Lands, with October being the most active time for these insects.

Native Bees

There are over 300 species of native bees in Adelaide and the Mt Lofty Ranges. Native bees are quite different to the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) that we all recognise; some native bees are as small as 2 mm in length and others as large as 2.5 cm. Most species are solitary, non-aggressive and perform extremely important pollination services for our native plants and food crops. Click here to find out more about native bees.

European Honeybees (Apis mellifera)

These well-recognised bees form hive colonies and will sting if approached or provoked.

The City of Adelaide will treat bees if they are a nuisance in a public area. However, if these bees present no danger to the public they are left alone, as they provide enormous benefit to the environment through the pollination of flowers. If the bees are located on private property then the owner must arrange for the removal at their own expense.

European Wasps

European Wasps are very common throughout Adelaide. Their nests have been found in a variety of places such as vents, building cavities, holes in trees, holes in the ground and even in ceilings of houses.

They have a yellow body and legs and they have black triangular markings on their abdomen. They are larger than a bee and unlike a bee, each wasp can sting multiple times. If left undisturbed, European Wasps are not aggressive to humans or other animals.


  • The European Wasp is stocky, black and yellow, with yellow legs .
  • The European Wasps are generally larger than a normal bee and much brighter in colour 
  • European wasps construct its nests of a papery type material and their colonies are always concealed where you normally would not see them. Perhaps in buildings or other places out of sight such as hole in the ground or retaining wall, vents in the outside of your house, hollows of trees, eaves of houses. 

European wasps are attracted to:

  • Raw and cooked meats.
  • Sweet foods.
  • Fruit.
  • Dog food.
  • Soft drinks, wine and water.
  • Newly mown lawn.

To prevent European wasps:

  • Don't leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around.
  • Avoid leaving uneaten pet food outside.
  • Ensure rubbish bins have tight fitting lids.
  • Restrict water sources.
  • Cover exposed food at picnics and barbeques.
  • Don't drink out of cans and bottles. Use clear containers or a straw.

Do not aggravate European Wasps

If a European wasp is aggravated it may sting. Unlike the bee, a European wasp can sting multiple times. If left undisturbed the European wasp is not aggressive to human or other animals.

If a nest is disturbed the wasps release a chemical which triggers the wasp to defend the nest.

Do not disturb nests – contact a licenced pest control operator to destroy the nest.

 Discouraging European Wasps

  • Do not leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around your yard
  • Avoid leaving uneaten pet food or dog bones outside
  • Make sure rubbish bins have tight fitting lids
  • Keep compost covered at all times
  • Cover bird baths and fish ponds with fine mesh or shade cloth
  • Cover exposed food at picnics and barbecues
  • Don’t drink out of cans or bottles. Use clear containers or straw.

Council and Wasps

  • The council currently does not destroy nests on private property. You are required to engage your own licenced pest control operator to arrange for the nest to be destroyed.
  • If you spot a European wasp nest in the public realm you must take a photo or know the exact location for council to remove. Spotting a swarm does not locate the nest.
  • Residents or Business owners will need to contact a Pest Controller to assist with the eradication of wasps and wasp nests. 
  • European wasps generally fly in a straight line so this might help locating the nest.

What do I do if I get stung?

The sting will cause a hot red swollen mark and cause pain which usually subsides in a couple of hours.

The sting’s pain can be relieved by icepack or placing a plastic bag containing ice and water over the stung area, Seek medical help. Stings to the face or multiple stings may lead to an allergic reaction.

If this occurs and the person has difficulty breathing use an inhaler such as ventolin and contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately.

Other Wasps

Mud Wasps and Paper Wasps are often confused with European Wasps. Mud Wasps are also black and yellow in colour, but are much larger than European Wasps. Their nest is made of mud and their mud tunnels can be found on buildings. They lay their eggs in their nests in captured spiders and they leave allowing the new wasps to hatch. They are not dangerous as they seldom sting humans.

Paper Wasps are a reddish brown colour and their nests are a round honeycomb design and are off-white in colour. Their nests are generally located in tree branches and on buildings. They will only sting when they feel that their nest is threatened.

The City of Adelaide offers free advice to the residents and ratepayers on any particular pest problems that they may have. Please contact the cusomter centre on (08) 8203 7203.


If allowed to roam, our furry feline friends can become the adversary of native animals. As many people keep cats as pets in suburban neighbourhoods, domesticated cats can have a devastating effect on native wildlife.

Evidence shows that cat owners are mostly unaware about how far their pets roam or how many native animals are killed by their cats, including birds, reptiles and small mammals. Click here to see an interesting study that reveals urban cat behaviour.

Cats have been responsible for the decline and even extinction of animals across Australia, and have been implicated in the disappearance of at least one bird species from the Park Lands, the Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel).

What Can You Do?

As cat owners, the best thing we can do to support the survival of our native wildlife is to keep our cats indoors. Evidence has shown that cat bells are not effective in protecting native wildlife. Instead, tying brightly-coloured material to your cat’s collar can alert native animals to your cat’s presence. 


Possums are native to South Australia and are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

Possums common in Adelaide are the Common Brushtail Possum and Common Ringtail Possum. Although common in urban areas, the Common Brushtail Possum has suffered a significant decline in abundance and range across South Australia due to predation and habitat destruction. The Common Brushtail Possum is recommended to be listed as rare on the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 Threatened Species Schedules.

The City of Adelaide does not provide traps for possums. If you wish to get traps you need to contact the Belair National Park on 8278 5477 and comply with the Dept. of Environment and Heritage legislation.

More information is available from the Department of Environment and Heritage.

Flying Foxes (bats)

Flying Foxes (bats) are often spotted in Adelaide’s parklands, the most common type being the Grey-headed Flying Fox. Whilst they play an important role in the ecosystem they can also carry a number of diseases that can pose health risks to humans and other animals.

Members of the public are urged not to touch or handle live, injured or deceased flying foxes. Members of the public who come across a dead, sick or injured flying fox should contact Fauna Rescue’s 24-hour Helpline on 08 8289 0896 to arrange removal of the animal.

Find out more about staying safe around flying foxes (bats).


As the warmer weather arrives, snakes become active especially in the area surrounding the Adelaide Zoo. If you ever see a snake in the Adelaide Park Lands, do not touch the snake and please immediately get in touch with our customer centre so we can alert our park rangers. Customer Centre: (08) 8203 7203

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