Wasps destroying native insect population

There are calls to take action against wasps, which are already said to be destroying our native insect populations.

Throughout summer wasps are a serious pest for punters, whether it's at a picnic or at the beach. The warm, dry weather looks set to nurture huge numbers of wasps this summer. But experts say they're causing even greater harm to our native insect populations, including weta.

Professor Jacqueline Beggs from University of Auckland Ecology Department says their most "dramatic" action is taking out giant dragon flies.

"They're really horrible. They just clip the wings so the dragon fly can't get away, and they'll keep on coming back in."

Wasps require a lot of protein in their diets and the easiest source of protein is other insects.

Professor Beggs has conducted research into the damage wasps are doing on insect populations and the flow-on impact that has on the ecosystem.

"They're at the base of the food webs," she explained.

"They're also the things that are helping turn over nutrients, so you lose them from the system and you're affecting the whole functioning of the forest."

The Department of Conservation (DoC) encourages volunteers to set Vespex bait traps along DoC walking traps and public areas.

Prof Beggs says while it would be "lovely" to eradicate all wasps, we're a long way off from being able to do so.

"At the moment what we're focusing on is control tools we can use in small areas, or relatively small areas that are effective."

She says native species of wasps are fine; it's only the introduced voracious killer wasps that appear to be a problem.