NZSM Online

Get TurboNote+ desktop sticky notes

Interclue makes your browsing smarter, faster, more informative

SciTech Daily Review

Webcentre Ltd: Web solutions, Smart software, Quality graphics

Quick Dips

New Way to Kill Wasps

A safe and effective wasp bait developed by Landcare researcher Dr Eric Spurr may help picnickers and trampers enjoy the outdoors without being stung.

New Zealand is regarded by some as the most wasp infected country in the world. Wasps compete with native birds for food, force campers to leave scenic areas and occupants to leave buildings, and can cause severe, or even fatal, allergic reactions.

At present 1080 is used for wasp control. It is highly toxic to wasps and not detected by them, and they live long enough to take it back to their nests to feed to juveniles, which it also kills. It has the drawback of being highly toxic to mammals as well, and its use is restricted to approved operators such as the Department of Conservation and regional councils.

The new bait, Finitron, has a similar eventual effect to 1080, reducing wasp numbers by 90%, although it takes ten days to do this instead of only two. It is hoped that it will be approved for use later this year.

"The compound is not very toxic to mammals and birds, so there is little risk it will affect humans, dogs and cats. It is 10,000 times less toxic than 1080 to rats," says Spurr. "There is little chance of poisoning non-target species because few other species find the bait attractive, and because the baits will be used in tin can bait stations above the ground."

Spurr sees Finitron as complementing Landcare's ongoing research into biological wasp controls. In this work, scientists in Christchurch, Nelson and Hamilton are studying the ecological impact of wasps and the effectiveness of a parasitoid wasp released to attack wasp larvae in nests. This Swiss control agent was first released in 1988, and it's being monitored as it establishes itself. Further agents are being studied.