The Department of Conservation, Fairfax Media and the Tasman Environment Trust launched the campaign in December, and Ms Barry visited the Nelson Lakes area today to bait a trap and see first-hand how effective the ‘Wasp Wipeout’ has been.
“Wasps are a menace. They’re one of the most damaging insect pests in New Zealand and are a real problem in beech forest where they compete with kākā, tui and bellbirds for the high energy food honeydew,” Ms Barry says.
“They’ve been seen killing chicks emerging from eggs and they decimate insect populations. Introduced wasps rip apart insects and attack honey bees which are already under threat.”
“The common and German species of wasps have found their way into New Zealand since the 1940s and have had a serious economic impact on farming, beekeeping, horticulture and forestry. They are estimated to cost New Zealand’s economy more than $130 million a year.”
“They are also a nuisance to people spending time in our forests, parks and picnic areas and even their own backyards.”
“The Vespex bait system was developed in Nelson by Dr Richard Toft in conjunction with DOC and is now readily available to be used in communities around New Zealand. People can buy Vespex online by registering, taking a short safety test and becoming an approved user.”
Fairfax Media has raised more than $55,000 for wasp control.
“The funding has provided $30,000 for DOC wasp control underway in priority areas. That’s on top of nearly $80,000 being spent in the area on wasp control by DOC. Another $20,000 in donations is being distributed to community groups through the Tasman Environment Trust,” Ms Barry says.
“The Vespex bait system is a game changer and has proved to be highly successful in reducing wasp activity by more than 95 per cent where it’s been used. A few weeks ago you couldn’t hear yourself think for the sound of wasps buzzing in the Nelson Lakes area but now there’s no buzz and you can hear the sounds of bellbirds again.”
Vespex is a protein bait containing the commonly-used insecticide fipronil that is placed in bait stations and taken back to wasp nests to feed larvae. Vespex is only available in New Zealand.
“Many nests can be destroyed with just 20 g of Vespex from a single bait station. The wasps take the bait back to their nest where it wipes them out overnight,” Ms Barry says.
Wasp Wipeout: A community-led project reclaims our outdoors from pests Stuff website