Introduced wasps are a significant pest which harm our native birds and insects, and are a threat to human health and recreation.
To help control wasp populations, Nelson-based company Merchento have developed a wasp bait in conjunction with DOC. Vespex was piloted on five public conservation land sites in 2015, and reduced wasp activity by more than 95%.
The protein bait, which contains the commonly used insecticide fipronil, is targeted at wasps and is not attractive to bees.
To use Vespex you need to become an approved user.
Follow these steps and you will meet both the New Zealand legislation and the stewardship requirements of the product and become an approved user.
You can find full information about becoming an appproved user on the Merchento website.
Vespex can be used on public or private land, but if you wish to carry out wasp control operations on public conservation land you need to contact your local DOC office to enquire about the permission process you need to follow.
Approved users can purchase Vespex from Merchento.
Transcript of video
Wasp control using Vespex protein bait
Wasps are a significant pest in New Zealand. They rob food from our nectar feeding birds. They eat and compete with our native insects. They cause injury and loss of life. They impact our economy with losses of over 1 million dollars.
We now have a tool for widespread control using bait stations. Manage a wasp outbreak from the scale of a campground up to many hectares.
Vespex is a protein based bait specifically formulated to target wasps. It is not attractive to bees. It has very low toxicity for birds and mammals, including people.
Wasp station delivery
Wasp stations keep the active ingredient contained, away from water and wildlife.
The Vespex wasp control programme has four distinct phases: planning, testing, operation, and clean up phases.
The key tasks of each phase follow.
- Activity testing: Plan for activity testing. We’ll explain what this is shortly.
- Treatment area: Map out the treatment area.
- Equipment: Check you have all the equipment you’ll need.
- Bait storage: Plan how you will store the Vespex which needs to be kept frozen.
- Consultation and DOC permission:
- Consider the people your wasp operation will affect.
- When on public conservation land, plan for conversations with people on adjoining land.
- Allow time for the DOC permission process.
Activity testing is the most important phase. It collects evidence that wasp density is high and that the wasps are feeding on protein.
You may need to test more than once before you reach the required activity threshold.
Once your test is positive it is time to execute your wasp control programme.
We recommend putting out stations at least a day ahead of baiting to help manage gear.
Three to eight days after baiting plan to remove bait from the environment.
Repack stations for reuse and dispose the waste.
Best practice requires that you refer to the documentation and the label before, and during the operation.
Wasp control phases in detail
Let’s look at each phase in more detail.
Planning should be done well in advance.
On a large scale operation, wasp stations can be spaced up to 50 m along a bait line. Parallel bait lines can be separated between 50 to 300 metres apart.
- Draw the treatment area boundary on your map.
- Mark bait lines and stations.
- You can use the DOCgis for mapping.
- Existing trap or bait lines can be used as part of your operation.
- See the product label for further grid spacing guidance.
- Identify all site access points and mark these on your map.
Plan to have enough notification signs for each access point.
- Vespex is supplied frozen in a tub, and should be stored frozen until used.
- Separate Vespex from where frozen food is stored.
- Stewardship requirements for Vespex are equal to Vertebrate Toxic Agent (VTA) controls.
Permission is required to use pesticides on Public Conservation Land.
When planning an operation on public conservation land, you will need to apply for DOC permission which requires evidence of planning, communication and consultation.
This includes evidence of consultation with iwi, bee keepers, and adjoining land owners. The Ministry of Health and the district council must also be notified.
The application requires evidence of an assessment of environmental effects.
Search the DOC website for guidance on the permission application process.
On private land, the requirement is for signage at all legitimate public access points to the treatment area.
Activity testing phase
Wasp activity is the number of wasps attracted to protein bait after a set time. To ensure Vespex’s mode of action will be effective wasp activity must pass a threshold.
Activity testing is essential.
Canned fish is an effective attractant when preserved in spring water and not oil or brine. Fresh fish offcuts can also be used.
Plan to do your activity testing at the same location where you plan to control wasps.
Run your activity test around noon, avoiding early morning or late afternoon. Avoid cold or rainy days.
Pack these items for your activity test.
- Between 500 grams to one kilo of fish attractant.
- Exactly 20 shallow dishes such as clean jar lids.
- A dessert spoon for the non- toxic attractant
- A notebook and pen.
- A rubbish bag to collect your dishes and fish waste.
- And don’t forget your can opener if you need one.
At the site place a lid on the ground and spread out the heaped spoonful of fish.
Walk out 5 metres to place the next lid, then continue laying out the lids in a straight line.
Wait an hour. This allows wasps in the area to be drawn to the dishes.
Then start inspecting from the first lid and record the presence of any wasps.
Count the number of wasps feeding at each lid. The total number of wasps attracted is the wasp activity for the area.
- 10 wasps per 20 lids is the threshold for non-honey-dew forest.
- If the total wasp count is less than 10 wasps, delay your operation.
- If the total count is more than 20 wasps. Your operation is go for all habitats including honey-dew forests.
Monitor the forecasts for a fine warm period to start your operation.
Once you have confirmed the weather for the next 3 days is warm and fine, take the bait out to thaw. Do this early in the morning so it will be completely thawed by tomorrow.
Remember, good weather is essential for the duration of the operation. Otherwise wasps will not feed at the stations.
Pack the following items for setting out wasp stations:
- flat-packed wasp stations.
- screws or nails
- a driver
- a print out of the operation layout
Locate a tree or wall where there is at least a horizontal distance of two metres from water. This includes drains and ditches, rivers and lakes.
Consider water amenities that drain to waterways.
At each site measure where you will affix the wasp station.
- 70 centimetres above the ground is the legal minimum.
- Affix at 150 centimetres off the ground whenever possible. This reduces risk to animals and children in the area. It will reduce the chance of wildlife causing the bait to spill.
Use one or two nails or screws to attach the station.
Check the station is secure and will remain level.
Day 2 - Baiting
Pack the following items for baiting:
- some pairs of Nitrile gloves
- Vespex applicator
- bait wells
- a bag for disposal
- the tub of Vespex kept inside another plastic bag to manage potential spills
It is important to always keep food separate from treatment gear.
You are legally required to carry the following documents with you when you are carrying or handling Vespex:
- Safe handling sheet #9 (Public Conservation Land Operations): bait safety handling sheet for baits in paste form
- Vespex safety data sheet
- Vespex performance standards (Public Conservation Land)
- map of the treatment area
Also remember to take the notification signs and a marker pen.
The bait label is legally required to be visible on the outside of the day pack.
- Use the laminated card supplied. Secure it to your pack.
Arrive in the treatment area early. Allow enough time so that all lines can be baited before noon.
- Start by visiting all the access points.
- Put up signs where they will be seen.
- Remember to fill in the sign details .
Now follow the map layout to find the stations. While gloved, at each station:
- open the tub
- fill the bait well to the fill line
- open the cover
- insert the bait well
- relatch the cover
Clean up any spills and always reseal the tub before moving to the next station.
At the last station look at the remaining bait. It can be refrozen for next season or discarded with the bait wells.
Clean up (3 to 8 days later)
Take the same day pack with the label card displayed, and carry the same documents.
Keep any food and drink separate.
Use the empty Vespex tub or a bag to collect the bait wells.
Systematically follow the map.
- Wear gloves to remove bait from each station.
- Place baits wells in the rubbish bag or tub.
- In some areas, you can choose to leave the wasp stations in place or take down the stations and flat pack to store for the next season.
- Remember to take down all public notices.
Dispose of all waste
Dispose of all contaminated waste.
The legal requirement is that it will be sent to an approved landfill.
Refer to any local requirement for eco-toxic waste disposal.
Keep this video open for reference if required.