Yellow Jackets in a Papier Mache Castle

When a wasp nest like this appears in a week or two you start to wonder how big it will be next month. This impressive 2 metre high german wasp (Vespula germanica) nest in the Okiwi Valley was estimated to hold about three thousand wasps (give or take a few hundred). They can nest below ground as well as above but these visible structures are quite daunting. Even the D.o.C ranger who came to the call out retired quickly “for some more gear”.

This introduced species destroy native insects in huge numbers as well as competing for nectar from native flowers with many nectar feeding birds and insects. In some South Island forests (notably Nelson) their prevalence is a major cause for concern by environmentalists.

“The biomass of introduced wasps in these forests has been estimated to be more than that of all the birds, rodents and stoats combined.”(Thomas et al., 1990)

Quite apart from stinging – they are a major pest!

At left is the common wasp alongside the German wasp.