Sting the wasps before they sting you
Killing queen wasps now will cut numbers of the nasty pests flying about in summer, says hobbyist beekeeper Clare Pinder of Blenheim.
Mrs Pinder said she had found 15 wasp queens flying about in her garden in the two weeks since she moved to her Poynter St home from Wellington.
Wasps flying about at this time of year were almost certainly queens, their abdomens chocker with eggs, she said. In a couple of weeks they would build nests and lay hundreds of eggs a day.
She is urging people to take advantage of an approximately two-week window to kill these queens using a targeted blast of pesticide spray.
Before moving to Blenheim Mrs Pinder attended a practical "bee boot camp" including a session on wasp biology where she learned that their numbers peak in autumn as bee numbers decline.
"This makes bees vulnerable to wasps which rob their honey," she said.
Wasp scientist Richard Toft of Entecol in Nelson confirmed any wasps flying about at this time of year were most likely queens out and about and beginning to set up new nests.
"If you can target new queens that's possibly one less nest although there's lots of natural mortality," he said.
Smaller wasps could be from German nests which over-wintered this relatively mild winter, he said.
A Department of Conservation brochure says New Zealand has one of the highest densities of wasps in the world. They have no natural predators, there is plenty of food and the warm climate means nests can survive winter.
Introduced species are the Asian paper wasp, the Australian paper wasp, the German wasp and the closely related common wasp.
- The Marlborough Express