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The creation of a new wasp bait, Vespex, looks set to tackle the growing Vespula problem both in Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand’s primary producers have a new weapon in their fight against European wasps, thanks to a new bait.

Insect ecologist, Richard Toft, has developed a bait that is unattractive to bees and can reduce wasp activity by 95%, according to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.

Wasps cause an estimated $120 million in disrupted pollination and lost honey production in New Zealand, as well as $60 million in environmental damages, conservation minister Maggie Barry told Radio NZ.

European wasps are not native to New Zealand and have no natural predators that can control their population.

Concerns about toxicity to non-target insects have resulted in most of the effective controls for wasps being taken off the table.

There was a major spike in wasp activity in Australia last summer, with attacks across Melbourne and Canberra.

Mr Toft’s bait, called Vespex (main picture, above) uses a slow-acting but potent pesticide from German company BASF, which wasps take back to their nests and distribute around the hive, including to the queen.

“If they get a sufficient dose, they will collapse the nest overnight,” Mr Toft said.

The innovation has been recognised by the environmental group WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), which awarded Mr Toft NZ$25,000.

The product will not be sold unless users undergo stewardship training to ensure the bait is used correctly and non-target organisms are not exposed.

Mr Toft said he was actively investigating opportunities to register and release the bait in Australia.

Adapted from: ABC Rural article published November 17, 2015