Pestrol Commentary: Pest Control News From Around New Zealand

A massive pest control operation set to start in West Coast, increased intensity in the fight against wasps, and a new partnership strategy that could help the government with its plan for a pest free NZ by 2050: all this in this month’s news wrap up.

1080 pest control operation to commence in West Coast

The government through the Department of Conservation (DOC) will in the coming weeks start dropping 1080 poison in South Island’s West Coast at an estimated cost of $6 million.

The Program – dubbed ‘Battle for our Birds’ – will cover about 720,000 ha nationwide and will mainly focus on southern and western parts of South Island.

The initial drops will contain non-toxic bait followed by drops of the 1080 poison. For this, the DOC has been allocated $20.7 million in this year’s budget.  This will be NZ’s largest pest control operation to date.


Fire with fire, wasps with wasps

wasps-with-waspsScientists from Landcare Research are exploring bio-control agents to help with the fight against the German and Common wasps which cost the primary industry about $130 million a year. Their latest addition to the biological army is Sphecophaga, a parasitic wasp whose larvae feed off their hosts, killing them eventually.

Control using the Sphecophaga had been tried again without success back in the 80’s. Positive results are expected this time, however, as the sourcing of the parasitic wasps will change from Switzerland, Israel and the US to the UK where NZ’s dominant wasp species are from.

Other potential control agents identified by Landcare Research include a parasitic hoverfly, a parasitic fly, and a mite.


Partners to help the government’s predator-free ambition

The government is very determined to achieve the predator-free status by 2050 and has started a joint venture company  Predator Free New Zealand which will be tasked with identifying large, high-value predator control projects and attracting investors for them.

Through the company, the government promises to add a dollar to every two dollars committed by the private sector and local councils to pest control.

This has motivated researchers to participate with research group Zip and Waikato University being the first to get on board. The two researchers are looking at ways to repel rodents permanently and ways to attract them to a central point for more effective baiting. The latter is meant to aid the ongoing “1080” program.