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Wet weather takes sting out of wasp season

Wet weather takes sting out of wasp season

Landcare Research predicts that wasp numbers will be relatively low this summer.

New Zealand has some of the highest densities of common wasps in the world. These introduced wasps compete with native birds, prey on invertebrates, disrupt tourism activities and reduce productivity of forestry and bee-keeping.

The Nelson region's honeydew beech forests are highly favoured by wasps, and are a key study site for wasp researchers. Landcare Research entomologist Richard Toft says the large amount of rain there during the spring when nests are founded is likely to result in reduced wasp numbers over summer.

"Rain can drown nests, or reduce the queens' ability to produce and rear their first brood of larvae.

"We ran our data from beech forest study sites through a population model developed in collaboration with AgResearch, taking into account the previous year's populations and spring rainfall. Last year's wasp numbers were relatively high, but the model forecasts that numbers this summer will be considerably lower than last."

Mr Toft says it is likely that there will still be "hotspots" in some areas of the country, as a wide range of factors can influence wasp populations.

"However, in general we expect wasp numbers around the country to be low."

ENDS

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