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Paper Wasp Found At Picton's Waikawa Bay

A yellow oriental paper wasp has been found, caught and killed at Waikawa Bay near Picton.

The exotic wasp (Polistes olivaceus) was found by a Waikawa Bay local. Landcare Research entomologist Richard Toft was able to identify the suspect wasp as well as locating a nearby nest, which contained several eggs only and no other wasps.

The dead wasp was sent to MAF's Auckland Reference Laboratory where its identity was confirmed last week. The nest is still being examined.

The yellow oriental paper wasp is up to 24 millimetres in length and is considerably larger than other introduced wasps found in New Zealand. The legs and body are yellowish brown with narrow dark brown markings. Originally from India and Asia, the yellow oriental paper wasp has been spread through trade to Africa and many Pacific Islands. It can sting repeatedly.

Mr Toft says it is unlikely that the wasp could establish in this country "This wasp originates from warmer climes, and the South Island is probably too cold for it. Even if the wasp and its nest had not been found and removed, it is unlikely that the nest could have survived the winter."

Mr Toft says the wasp has been found in New Zealand before. "In 1978, a nest and two adults were discovered at the Dunedin wharf. They were believed to have arrived on an Indian cargo ship. Those wasps were kept in an observation cage in the Otago Museum and eventually died."

Mr Toft says the Waikawa Bay discovery highlights the need for vigilance against pest invaders. "People need to be especially alert to the possibility of insect stowaways at all New Zealand ports."

Mr Toft says anyone in the Picton area who suspects they may have seen a yellow oriental paper wasp should call MAF's Exotic Pest Hotline on 0800 809 966.

Anyone stung by a wasp should apply ice and take paracetamol for pain, and antihistamine for itching and swelling. Seek medical advice for severe allergic reactions. For more information on medical treatment, consult Landcare Research's 'Stowaways' website:



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