Four species of wasp occur in the Bay of Plenty:
The German wasp invaded New Zealand in a crate of airplane parts but did not become widespread until the 1940s. This wasp is slightly larger than a honey bee. It has a black head and thorax, and yellow and black striped abdomen with black spots separate from the central black stripes. German wasps generally nest underground but sometimes in hollow trees and the walls and roofs of buildings.
The common wasp arrived more recently than the German but is already widespread throughout the country. This wasp is very similar in appearance to the German wasp but can be distinguished by not having separate black dots on its abdomen as the dots are fused to the black rings on the abdomen. Common wasps also nest underground.
Asian paper wasp
Asian paper wasps were first discovered in North Auckland in 1979 and have quickly spread through the northern North Island. These wasps are slightly smaller than the German and common wasps. The Asian paper wasp is also yellow with black strips. Paper wasps are distinguished when flying as their long legs dangle beneath their bodies. Paper wasps build elaborate, bell shaped 'paper mache' nests with hexagonal cells which they suspend from branches, letterboxes, under the eaves of buildings and many other suitable structures.
Australian paper wasp
Australian paper wasps have been in New Zealand since the 1880s. These wasps are smaller than the Asian paper wasp. The Australian paper wasp is easily identified by its black and reddish brown colouration.
What do wasps do?
Common and German wasps are aggressive by nature and may attack humans and animals without provocation. Common and German wasps attack bee hives and therefore pose a threat to the apicultural and horticultural industries. Common and German wasps prey on native fauna posing a threat to endangered species of insects.
Paper wasps are less aggressive but will defend disturbed nests which are often located in urban and coastal areas. Paper wasps have been known to chew weather boards on buildings for wood fibres with which to make their nests. Paper wasps prey on many garden insects.
Who is responsible?
Nests on Department of Conservation or district council land should be reported to the corresponding authority who will deal with the problem appropriately. Nests on private land are the responsibility of the land owner.
How to find a wasp nest
To locate a wasp nest look for the wasps' flight path at dawn or dusk on a warm sunny day when large numbers will be leaving or returning to the nest. Use a plate of cat food or similar to attract the wasps. As they land sprinkle them with flour to make them more visible. Follow the wasps as far as you can and repeat the process until the nest is located.
What do you do once you find a wasp nest?
If you are allergic to wasps or do not wish to carry out the extermination yourself commercial pest controllers can be found under 'Pest Control' in the Yellow Pages. Do not attempt to destroy a wasp nest during the daylight hours. Night time or twilight on cool days is the best time to deal with the nest. Do not hold torches near to you as disturbed wasps may fly at the light.
Destroying a common or German wasp nest
- Nests found in flat ground can be destroyed by upending a bottle containing 1 litre of diesel or petrol into the nest opening.
- Leave the bottle in the entrance to prevent any wasps from emerging.
- Do not light the fuel.
- Nests located in banks, walls, tree trunks or buildings require the use of insecticides.
Suitable products available from hardware or garden shops include:
- Permex Insect Dust - Environmental Health Products
- Wasp Killer Squeeze Duster - Yates NZ Ltd
- Rentokil Wasp Killer - Rentokil Ltd
Fumigants such as Magotoxin (available from Bay of Plenty Regional Council) can be cost effective if there are a large number of nests.
- Before placing the fumigant in the nest, precut a sod of earth to the appropriate size of the nest entrance.
- Place 1-3 pellets of fumigant in the nest along with a damp piece of paper in dry weather.
- Place the sod of earth over the entrance with the grass side down being careful not to cover the fumigant with earth.
Before using any poison read the poison label, comply with the handling instructions, and ensure you understand the symptoms and the recommended first aid treatment.
Destroying a paper wasp nest
To kill the wasps in the nest simply spray with household flyspray. Manoeuvre a plastic or paper bag over the nest and clip it off at the stem before sealing the bag and disposing of it in the rubbish.
- Keep antihistamine creams and tablets, available from any chemists without prescription in your travel first aid kit, even if you are not allergic to stings, particularly when visiting the bush during the summer.
- If you are allergic to stings carry an adrenalin kit and ensure your companions know how to use it.
- Cold pads and antihistamine cream will reduce the pain and swelling.
- Treat stings to the mouth or neck as serious even if you are not allergic as swelling of the throat can block your airway.
- Take an antihistamine tablet immediately and seek medical attention.
Who can help?
Pest Free Fumigation Ltd, Mount Maunganui
Ph 021 937 031 or 07 5756530
Bay Pest Destruction, Rotorua
Ph 025 844 713 or 07 3481742
Jae Carpet and Pest Control Services, Whakatane
Ph 07 3086224
For more information
Contact an a Pest Animal Officer on the details below.