Nelson-based Richard Toft has won a Conservation Innovation award from the World Wide Fund for Nature for his development of Vespex, which has recently been successfully trialled by DOC.
“Wasps are one of the most damaging invertebrate pests in New Zealand and I congratulate Mr Toft on winning this innovation award,” Ms Barry says.
“Breeding in vast numbers, wasps monopolise honeydew, which is a key food source for the kaka, tui and bellbird among other native animals.”
“They pose a threat to native insects and are a continual annoyance, not to mention a health risk, to people visiting the conservation estate.”
Wasps have been estimated to cost around $120 million a year through the disruption they cause to bee pollination and lost honey production. They also cost the health sector around $1 million a year in sting treatments.
Vespex is a protein bait containing the common insecticide fipronil, and does not attract bees. As wasps feed it to their larvae, many nests can be destroyed from a single bait station.
DOC trialled Vespex over 5,000 hectares at five South Island sites last summer. Within a week of the first application, wasp activity was reduced by more than 95%.
“Mr Toft’s work is an example of New Zealand’s world-leading expertise and know-how in protecting the natural environment. I look forward to seeing the difference Vespex will make in the coming years,” Ms Barry says.