Introduction

A wasp control programme this summer hopes to reduce wasp activity in this popular park.

A wasp control programme will be undertaken in the Abel Tasman National Park this summer in an effort to greatly reduce wasp activity in the popular park.

The control programme will be carried out along 46 km of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, around 17 campsites and four huts, and over 110 ha at Pitt Head and 736 ha in the Falls River Block. It will be carried out by the Department of Conservation and funded by Project Janszoon and the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve Fund, which is funded from foreshore concession fees.

The wasps will be controlled using a protein bait called Vespex® that contains the commonly used insecticide fipronil which targets wasps and is not attractive to bees. The wasps take the bait back to their nests to feed their larvae, destroying entire nests from one bait station. Vespex has been developed by Nelson-based company Merchento in conjunction with DOC.

Project Janszoon director Devon Mclean says in February 2015 Project Janszoon funded a wasp control programme over 736ha in the Falls River area of the Abel Tasman National Park. It was part of a wider DOC pilot programme that was also carried out at four other public conservation land sites.

"The pilot reduced wasp activity by more than 95% so this extended control programme should greatly improve visitors' experience of the Abel Tasman over summer and also provide substantial bio-diversity benefits," he says.

A recent analysis has found wasps cost the New Zealand economy in excess of $130 million per year. As wasps have no natural predators they compete with our native birds, insects and honey bees for food. They also pose a significant threat to human health and outdoor recreation users.

DOC's Motueka Biodiversity Operations Manager Chris Golding says the control programme will be undertaken some time after mid January.

"We need to wait until the wasps are feeding on protein which could be any time from mid January. We will be using single lines of bait stations along the coastal track and around campsites. This is expected to reduce the nuisance to visitors who might see the odd stray wasp, but not experience the annoyance of past summers," Chris Golding says.

This wasp control operation in the Abel Tasman National Park will only be undertaken on public conservation land. Merchento recently announced that Vespex® wasp bait can now be used on private land by individuals who have completed an online training test.

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