'Beauty' with a sting in the tail

Last updated 12:58 18/03/2014
Daile Eden
SILENCED: Pest controller Shane Warland with a German wasp nest from the rafters at Halifax Veterinary Centre.

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Forget the ghosts hiding in the attic - its large wasps nests you might need to be afraid of.

Flybusters Anti-ants exterminator Shane Warland was called out to the Halifax Veterinary Clinic in Nelson to deal with a large wasp nest that had made its home in a corner of the loft.

The clinic was alerted to the nest after its gardner was stung by one of the resident wasps.

Mr Warland sprayed the swarming nest with standard killer permex dust.

As the wasps moved their way down the chute of the building to the nest they carried the poison with them to their home.

He then went back and removed the nest some days later.

The german wasp hive was made from wood or bark and wasp saliva. Inside the middle of the nest was comb chambers housing the next generation of wasps.

Baby wasps were still "chewing" their way out of their birthing chambers. Mr Warland said he would apply more poison to kill them.

Halifax Veterinary Clinic owner Dr Hans Andersen had gone into the loft at one point to try to deal with the wasp nest .

He described it as "beautiful" and "sculptured into a lovely pear shape".

The job was "scary", but it was not "something you want to delegate to someone else" when you are the owner of the company, he said.

Dr Anderson said he kept his distance from the stinging pests.

For Mr Warland it was just another day of "fighting the good fight" in pest control. It was not the largest nest he had dealt with - one in Richmond had been about "half the size of a piano".

The Department of Conservation website said german wasps live in large colonies in New Zealand.

Their grey nest can be about the size of a soccer ball, but can become huge if they manage to survive over winter.

Since the 1940s the wasps had tried to make New Zealand home, finding their way here in United States aeroplane parts.

They spread rapidly becoming a significant pest especially in the South Island where native scale insects producing "super fuel" honeydew attract the wasps to beech forests.

So large are the numbers of wasps peaking over late summer and autumn that their biomass in the forests has been calculated to be greater than the weight of all the birds and introduced mammals combined.

They are one of the most hated pests in the country, by locals and tourists, and for the damage they cause to native species, horticulture and agriculture.

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