An extensive wast control programme will take place in Abel Tasman National Park over the summer to try and hold back the invasive species.

The operation will stretch along the 46km of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, include around 17 campsites and four huts, and account for 110 ha at Pitt Head and another 736 ha in the Falls River Block.

The Department of Conservation are conducting the push thanks to funding from Project Janszoon and the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve Fund, which in turn draws money from foreshore concession fees.

A protein bait called Vespex will be used to combat the wasps. Importantly, it contains a commonly used intecticide called fipronil, which does not impact on crucial bee populations.


The wasps gather the bait and return it to their nests, feeding it their larvae and destroying entire colonies thanks to a single bait station.

Vespex was developed by Nelson company Merchento with help from DOC.

Project Janszoon director Devon McLean says a similar anti-wasp operation in February 2015 was successful, and took place as part of a pilot campaign by DOC.

"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," says McLean.

Recent studies have found that wasps cost the New Zealand economy over $130 million per year. Wasps are not endemic to the country, and provide stiff competition with native birds, insects and honey bees for limited food supplies.

Chris Golding, DOC's Motueka Biodiversity Operations Manager, says this latest campaign will begin in the second half of 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."

The operation in Abel Tasman will only cover public conservation land, but Merchento says the Vespex wasp bait can now be used on private land by people who take an online training test.


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