By Christine Officer, DOC.
Introduced wasps are one of the most damaging insect pests in New Zealand. The impact on New Zealand’s biodiversity is devastating – they harm our native birds and decimate insect populations, and the Nelson-Tasman region has some of the highest densities in the world.
Studies have found that there can be up to 40 nests per hectare of beech forest. Each nest can produce thousands of queens, and with about a million hectares of beech forest in the South Island, there could be up to 40,000,000,000 wasp queens in the beech forest at the height of summer, (with many more worker wasps!!)
Add to that, introduced wasps are estimated to cost New Zealand’s economy more than $130million a year, with huge economic impacts on farming, beekeeping, horticulture and forestry.
We need to do something about it.
What can we do about it?
The local Nelson-Tasman community want to reclaim their backyards, bike tracks and national parks and have decided to do something about it. This week, the Nelson Mail launched Wasp Wipeout – a community-led initiative to sustain and increase the amount of wasp control across the region.
Working together with the Tasman Environment Trust and DOC, Fairfax Media are leading the crowdfunding campaign to help knock-down these pests.
All contributions will go to the Tasman Environment Trust to sustain and grow the amount of wasp control operations occurring in the area.
How will we do it? – Vespex Bait System
Wasp control methods have been refined over the last 15 years. In 2014 there was a breakthrough, with wasp bait stations developed that attract and destroy these pests, using the insecticide fipronil, which attracts wasps, but does not harm bees or other insects.
Trials in 2015 in five locations across the South Island, including Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes National Parks, using Vespex bait, achieved between 95-100 percent wasp eradication.
Nik Joice, Senior Ranger Biodiversity based in St Arnaud, says Vespex is an “amazing tool” for wasp control in the region.
“When the wasp numbers get up high here the hum of the wasps in the trees…it’s all you hear. We put the Vespex bait out and the next day you go into the forest and you can hear the birds singing. It’s just amazing. It’s like a switch.”
Vespex bait and bait stations are affordable and available to purchase online, after completing a short online test and becoming an approved user.
To learn more and contribute, check out the Wasp Wipeout website.