Nelson’s Wasp Wipeout

Brent Palmer
Published on January 16, 2017

Nelson’s Wasp Wipeout

Why are we targeting German and common wasps?  From their devastating impact on the environment to their major cost to the economy, here are 10 reasons to strongly dislike vespula wasps.

1. Wasps are the most dangerous animal in New Zealand, with a toxic sting that can kill. An estimated 1300 people seek medical attention for Vespula wasp stings across New Zealand each year. It’s estimated that someone dies from anaphylactic shock caused by wasps every 3.5-7 years.

2. There are so many of them! A 1990 study found that, at its peak, the biomass of wasps in South Island beech forest is as great as, or greater than, the combined biomasses of birds, rodents and stoats.

A wasp feeding on honeydew in a New Zealand beech forest. A wasp feeding on honeydew in a New Zealand beech forest.

3. Wasps kill baby native birds. While there has been no quantifiable study of this, there have been reports of wasps attacking and killing newly hatched birds.


4. They also kill a whole lot of insects, a valuable food source for birds, upsetting the natural food chain of our forests. A 1991 study found that German and common wasps consume up to 8.1 kilograms of insects per hectare, per season – similar to the amount consumed by insect-eating birds.

5. They cost us lots of money. A Department of Conservation report, released in 2015, estimate annual cost of wasps to the New Zealand economy at $133 million a year, impacting on beekeeping, forestry, agriculture, tourism and more.

6. Wasps are major buzz kills. They ruin family picnics, walks in the bush, mountain biking and other fun activities. Most respondents of a 2001 survey, who had visited a national park or large forest area, reported sightings of wasps and had a “negative attitude” towards them.

7. They have contributed to silencing birdsong. When James Cook arrived in New Zealand, he was greeted with deafening birdsong. In many of our forests, that’s been replaced by the drone of countless numbers of wasps.

8. They’re invaders. German and common wasps snuck into New Zealand uninvited. They have no natural predators or competitors here. Essentially, they have a free reign.

9. Who ate all the honeydew? Um, wasps did. Honeydew’s an important food source for native birds like tui and kaka, lizards and honeybees. A report last year estimated that wasps exploit 50 per cent of honeydew production in upper South Island beech forests.

10. Let’s face it. Nobody likes wasps. A survey by Landcare Research in 2001 found that wasps were the most disliked introduced wildlife in New Zealand.

About the Author: The above article on Nelson’s Wasp Wipeout was written and provided by Jonathan Carson.


Brent Palmer is a local leader in the field of Richmond and Nelson Real Estate sales, marketing, advanced technology for home selling, and social media.

You can contact Brent Palmer here, or at 027 544 9921. He has helped many people buy and sell homes in the Nelson, Stoke and Richmond areas for years, and would love the opportunity to help you as well.

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I help people buy and sell real estate in the following Nelson and Tasman  towns  & neighbourhoods: Wakefield, Brightwater, Hope, Appleby, Redwood Valley, Mapua, Stoke, Tahunanui, Atawhai and of course, Richmond and Nelson City.

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