Expert kills 54000 wasps in two nests
It was not just fishermen hauling in good catches in Kapiti over the summer break... a holidaying wasp expert bagged 54,000 of the critters.
John Eason, Waspol New Zealand director, found two large wasp nests in Queen Elizabeth Park yielding about 5.5kg of wasps.
Park ranger Brendan Bulliff said Eason was on holiday when he noticed a few wasps and looked for the nests.
"When he saw how big the nests were he approached Greater Wellington Regional Council for permission to remove the wasps."
On January 3, Eason removed the two German wasp nests with safety measures "put in place to protect park users", Bulliff said.
One nest was at Whareroa Stream, the other at the Paekakariki end of the park.
"John's method was to suck the wasps out of their nests into storage containers where they were killed using dry ice.
"Twelve pounds of wasps were collected and there were approximately 4500 wasps per pound.
"The wasps will be sent overseas for immuno-therapy uses.
"From our point of view, the operation was a win-win. We get rid of a pest that's a risk to park users and he actually has a use for the wasps."
The Kapiti Observer could not reach Eason for comment but a trawl through the FairfaxNZ archives revealed it was not the first time he had landed a big catch on the Coast.
In November 2005, the Nelson Mail reported that Eason sucked up 6.35kg of wasps from a nest over four days the previous summer.
"Wasps were hitting me like a hail storm. I was wearing a wetsuit to do that. It certainly alleviated the fear factor," he told the paper then.
Eason reportedly sucked up the live wasps and quick froze them to send to the United States where they were used to supply venom for de-sensitising drugs - fetching nearly $1100 a kilo at the time.
The exporter, based in the Nelson region, said he could not use baits or poison to collect or calm the wasps as it could contaminate the venom.