New Zealand deploys bugs to deal with wasp drawback


Sign saying “Wasps”

New Zealand has some of the most wasps in the world and is now taking action to control them by introducing two insects from Europe.

The hover fly and wasp nest beetle got the green light from the country’s environmental protection agency.

They are targeting wasp nests that have overrun parts of the South Island.

The German wasp was introduced to New Zealand in the 1940s and the common wasp arrived in the late 1970s but is now widespread, the government says.

The Tasman District Council, based in Richmond, South Island, had applied for permission to introduce the hover fly and wasp control beetle as bio-control agents.

In its motion, the council said that the region’s bean trees covered with honeydew had the highest density of wasps in the world – with up to 30 wasp nests per hectare.

So many thousands of wasps had disrupted the local ecosystem – killing honey bees and other insects – and costing the New Zealand economy $ 133 million annually in damage and management, local media reported.

The EPA said it had assessed the effects of introducing alien species and found them safe.

“The reason it is safe is because these two insects only attack wasps and this has been found both where they originated in Europe and elsewhere,” said Chris Hill, EPA general manager for Dangerous Substances and New Organisms.

Paul Sheldon, Tasman District Council Biosecurity and Biodiversity Coordinator, said this was one of several ways to address the wasp problem. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s a tool in the tool kit,” he said.

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