10122016 news photo Alden Williams/Fairfax NZ

Beech forest on the eastern side of Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park.

file generic native tree trees wasp

Wasp Wipeout

Wasp Wipeout is a collaborative partnership between Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ), the Department of Conservation, Stuff media, the Tasman Environment Trust and Councils with the aim of reducing Vespula wasp populations and to spread awareness of the threats caused by these species.

Vespula wasps

The German wasp (Vespula germanica) and common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) have been described as New Zealand’s most abundant and devastating invertebrate pests. New Zealand has some of the highest densities of German and common wasps in the world. This is because they have no natural predators here, our winters are mild and there is plenty of food for them.

Biomass of wasps in Nelson beech forests

Wasps are a major problem in beech forests where they consume massive amounts of honeydew. Honeydew is produced by a native scale insect and is an important food for native birds, bats, insects and lizards. Wasps also eat huge numbers of native insects and have even been seen killing newly hatched birds. We have a lot of talk about rats and stoats and mice and their impact on systems. But put wasps in those same forests, the biomass of wasps exceeds the combined biomass of all the rats, all the mice, all the stoats and all the birds.

How Wasp Wipeout works

Vespex is a protein (meat-based) bait, containing the insecticide fipronil, which is deployed from a bait station. Wasps take the bait back to their nests to feed their young, wiping out the nest. This bait is targeted at wasps and is not attractive to bees, but it is only effective at certain times of the year when wasps are eating protein.

1.Preparation: Using a drill, bait stations are installed in trees at roughly 50m intervals along tracks or in a grid.
2.Testing: to ensure baiting will be effective we must test to ensure wasps are eating protein and will therefore be attracted to the bait.  If enough wasps are attracted to the protein, then it’s time to put out the bait. Wasps visit and take the bait back to their nests, wiping them out.
3.Cleanup: 3-8 days after baiting, bait is removed and stations are reused the following year.


We need your help

Become a partner

Join forces on this high profile national project. We are currently looking for partners to fund this important work on as many sites as possible. Partners can choose to sponsor a site or even a region. Sponsorship of a site starts from just $1,000 per site and there are also opportunities for staff engagement on your sponsored project. Contact [email protected] for more information.


Volunteers can be involved in the installation of bait stations and/or be a larger part of the programme by returning to check wasp activity and lay out bait when wasps are active. Contact [email protected] to be notified when volunteers are needed on the Wasp Wipeout programme.


Donate to this project to fund additional sites for wasp control in Wellington and Auckland. Donations will go towards materials, volunteer recruitment and coordination.