7 Nov 2013

Wasps wreak havoc on flora and fauna

6:40 pm on 7 November 2013

Scientists are warning that wasps are wreaking havoc on native forests, birds and insects and more control measures and funding are needed to combat the pest.

Millions of the introduced German wasp, and more predominantly the common wasp, are now found throughout the country.

A yellow flower wasp lays eggs on a beetle larvae.

A yellow flower wasp lays eggs on a beetle larvae. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The middle and top of the South Island have been the worst hit.

Victoria University professor Phil Lester says New Zealand has some of the highest wasp densities in the world.

He says wasps are attacking birds and driving them away to the point that the dawn chorus in some forests has been replaced by the wasps' drone.

Professor Lester says there are one million hectares of beech forest at the top of the South Island and there are up to 350 wasps per square metre of tree and 30 to 40 nests per hectare.

He says the wasps are also responsible for the regional extinction of some insects.

Professor Lester says adult beech forest spiders usually only survive four hours during peak wasp times and the probability of a Kowhai moth surviving to adulthood is virtually nil.