Auckland, Nov 21 – A new weapon in the war against wasps is likely to be unleashed next year.
Scientists hope to release an American parasitic insect from quarantine at Lincoln University in Canterbury to test its wasp-killing abilities.
They believe sphecophaga vesparum burra may be more voracious than the Swiss sphecophaga vesparum vesparum that has been released at hundreds of sites since 1988, with little effect on wasp numbers.
Scientists from Landcare Research were in Auckland today to discuss New Zealand’s wasp problem and ways to control it.
They say wasp numbers may increase this summer as a result of a warmer spring.
The wasp research team leader, Jacqueline Beggs, of Nelson, said they were confident of obtaining Government approval to release the new insect next spring.
Initially it would be tried in Canterbury and Nelson.
Imported from Washington state, it came from a different gene pool to the Swiss species and was thought to be more voracious.
Team member Richard Harris said the insect lived in wasp nests and fed on the developing larvae.
Ms Beggs said biological control remained the best option but it could take up to 10 years before the new agent, if successful, had any noticeable effect.
The potential of other insects to control wasps was also being investigated.
A worldwide search for possible pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses or fungi, was soon to begin.
NZPA NZH acb 21/11/94 20-35NZ