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NPDC bans the buzz through wasp-baiting programme

Wasp nests the size of cars are a rare find these days, thanks to NPDC’s long-running wasp baiting programme.

It’s breeding season for German wasps during February and March, so NPDC sets up poison-bait stations for the insects to take bits back to their nests, killing off the colony.

“Nearly 20 years ago there were more than 100 nests treated every year throughout the district but these days we’re seeing a lot less,” says NPDC Horticulture Coordinator Alex Harfield. “Staff in the field have really noticed the difference.

“We’ve found some big nests over the years. We found one at Manukorihi sportsground in 2016 – the bank had collapsed in a slip, and we could see it was the size of a small car.

He recalls being sent to a reserve in New Plymouth to deal with one next, only to find 14 – something unusual these days.

German wasps are a pest species that pose a public safety risk. They also eat native insects and honeydew, which are important food sources for many native species including kākā, tūī and geckos. They’ve also been known to kill newly hatched birds in their nests.

The Council has bait stations at about 50 sites on public land across the district from Ōkato to Urenui and inland to Inglewood. Vespex poison goes into a yellow bait box that’s set about 1.5m up from the ground, which keeps the poison away from children and dogs. Warning signs are also installed.

“We use a protein-based poison, which is safe for bees because they’re not interested in eating it. But wasps are keen on protein – that’s why the hang around if you’re eating a meat sandwich outdoors – and they’ll take the poison back to their nest,” says NPDC Parks and Open Spaces Manger Conrad Pattison.

NPDC does not manage wasp nests on private property, but Conrad says they are keen to hear from anyone who spots one in a public park or reserve. “They forage up to 200m from their nest so keep an eye on their flightpath and if you spot a likely location, please take a photo so that we can find it easily,” he says.

 

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