With summer just around the corner, Waikato Regional Council is urging people to look out for pest wasps and to use safe ways to tackle them if they establish nests on private properties.
Wasps were very prevalent throughout the Waikato last summer. For people with allergies, wasp stings can be potentially fatal. And, besides being a threat to people and pets, wasps deprive native birds of food and are believed to cost primary industries, mainly beekeepers, at least $10 million a year.
“Some say the wasp problem in New Zealand is the worst in the world,” says biosecurity officer Chris Monk.
“They have an abundance of food here and no real natural competitors and predators.”
To keep wasp numbers under control, Waikato’s regional pest management plan requires landowners to control a variety of wasps on their property if a complaint is received.
Australian and Asian Paper wasps are thin with long dangly legs and make small “honey combed” style nests on vegetation and around the house, while the German and common wasps are short and stocky with yellow and black colourations and most commonly nest in the ground.
“Wasps will most often search for food near their nest, so if you can kill all the nests within 200 metres of a problem area you should significantly reduce their numbers,” says Chris.
“We advise carrying out wasp control at night – or twilight on cool days – when they are generally inactive.”
Paper wasps can be dealt with by spraying with household fly spray. The nest can then be removed by snipping it off into a bag, sealing it up and then either burning it or placing it into the rubbish.
Nests for the German and common wasps can be difficult to locate and are more tricky to get rid of. You can use wasp traps, Permex Dust and Vespex wasp bait and lure. Suitable insecticides are available from hardware or garden shops - just follow the directions on the container.
The council contributes funding to a biological control programme run by Landcare Research looking for effective biological control agents for German and common wasps. The aim is to provide long terms solutions to the nation’s wasp issues.
Chris stresses that people allergic to wasps or unsure of controlling them should avoid trying to destroy nests themselves and look in the yellow pages for professional help.
For further information and advice, please contact our biosecurity team on 0800 800 401 or visit waikatoregion.govt.nz/wasps.