Pest-Free Pauatahanui group aiming to eradicate wasps from Wellington

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff.co.nz
The story of Vespex.

A plan to eradicate wasps in Wellington will start with laying out bait over 100 hectares north of the city.

The Pest-Free Pauatahanui group and epidemiologist Leigh Corner are aiming to do a trial run at Pauatahanui in early March, and are hoping it will lead to a wider rollout in 2019.

Group spokeswoman Joanne Cross said wasps were a leading pest, consuming massive amounts of honey dew and native insects.

A container of wasp bait, Vespex.
MARION VAN DIJK/STUFF
A container of wasp bait, Vespex.

The trial follows a Wasp Wipeout campaign led by Stuff, in partnership with DOC and the Tasman Environmental Trust, in which community groups, business sponsors and many others have raised more than $55,000 towards eradicating german and common wasps in and around Nelson.

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The Pauatahanui trial will involve using meat-based bait Vespex, containing the insecticide fipronil, which will be deployed from 21 bait stations.


"This bait is targeted at wasps and is not attractive to bees or people as it is used to control fleas on pets and insects on food crops," Cross said.

"Wasps take the bait back to their nests to feed their young and the queen, wiping out the nest.

"This method means rather than just one nest many will be destroyed as wasps roam widely.

The days of wasps in Wellington could be numbered.
supplied
The days of wasps in Wellington could be numbered.

"But it is only effective at certain times of the year when wasps are eating protein."

New Zealand has some of the highest densities of german and common wasps in the world, which are a nuisance to forestry gangs, tourists, and campers.

But, perhaps more importantly, they consume massive amounts of honey dew, particularly in beech forests, which is an important food for native birds, bats, insects and lizards.

The eradication trial will involve a wasp activity test to measure wasp numbers, then a bait period of 3-8 days and a follow up activity test to determine the success.

"The bait is placed inside a small triangular station one metre above ground and safely out of reach of curious pets and children," Cross said.

The ultimate goal - funding permitted - would be to extend the trial around Wellington.

"We understand Nelson have managed this on a fairly small budget, and we want to see if we can go in the same direction."

* Pest Free Pauatahanui will have information available at the Battle Hill Farm Day from 10am to 2pm on Jan 21. Contact Joanne Cross on 04 237 7666 or crossandco@xtra.co.nz

Stuff