Wasps make late but unwelcome arrival

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With a slow start to wasp season, Geoff "the bee man" Scott expects more call outs to extermination jobs. Photo: Laura Smith

FEARED by some and disliked by many, the dreaded wasp is back in town.

Flurries of the black and yellow pests could be seen in Southland properties as wasp season has a delayed start. Geoff “the bee man” Scott said the season was only just beginning.

He said the “aggressive” insects could impact on the lives of those who found themselves sharing their home or garden with them to nine nests on a single property.

As well as being a risk to human health, wasps could prove to be destructive guests.

A wasp nest he attended to last week in Gore had been built from a wooden fence sturdy sanctuary for the German Wasps.

The season was late to start, but the calls for extermination had begun trickling in.

“This year it’s been very quiet, I’ve done about 30. Whereas two years ago I did 300 in Riverton alone.”

He said this time of year would normally be the end of it, “but as you can see, we’re only just starting”.

Dealing with the nuisance was not always the only thing clients had to deal with, Mr Scott said it was not uncommon for people to be unable to afford the cost of extermination.

“Some people when you go there you know they can’t afford it, which is a real shame because you can’t leave the wasps there.”

Wasps start off as larvae and hatch from cells they grow in within the nest. Photo: Laura Smith

He believed the council or Work and Income NZ should contribute financially or offer assistance in those cases.

Ministry of Social Development acting regional commissioner Sue Rissman said, “We are here to help and have support available for urgent and unexpected bills, which can include pest control in some cases.

“We encourage people needing help with pest control to get in touch and discuss their individual needs with us to see if they are eligible for such assistance.”

Environment Southland (ES) biosecurity and biodiversity operations manager Ali Meade said ES managed a range of plant and animal species which were or could become an issue for Southland.

“All ratepayers contribute to the work of the biosecurity team through the biosecurity rate. However, there is no provision within the rate to cover the funding of region-wide wasp control.

“Pest control is generally the landowner’s responsibility, with the exception of some high-priority or tricky to deal with species.”

When people phoned in about wasp nests they were referred to pest removal companies, or beekeeping clubs which also dealt with wasp control is a member of the Southland Bee Society.

“Those that can’t pay for the service or prefer to do it themselves can purchase insecticides from hardware and garden stores which have permethrin as the active ingredient.”

Southland District Council (SDC) Environmental Health manager Michael Sarfaiti said pest control of wasps was the responsibility of the property owner, but if a wasp nest was an issue on council-controlled land, council would deal with it.

It had not considered funding wasp control as current legislation did not require it and SDC rates did not cover wasp control on private property.

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