Invertebrates

Novel tools, technologies and strategies need to be deployed to eradicate biotic threats.

 

The inventory of research outputs and resources can be found here:

Invertebrates

This research is Active
A honey bee with parasitic Varroa mites. This bee is also suffering the effects of the 'Deformed wing virus' which is spread by Varroa. This heavily infected bee will never be able to fly. Image thanks to Phil Lester.

Overview Te Tirohanga Whānui

Many of our current pest control strategies have unintended and detrimental effects on the surrounding environment. For example, heavy reliance on pesticides can result in non-target kill of native or beneficial invertebrates.

We need new tools to effectively control pests while avoiding these unwanted side-effects.

The ‘Novel Tools & Strategies – Invertebrates’ team aims to develop a new, landscape scale, invertebrate pest management tool by 2024.

While working towards this goal, they are partnering with iwi and hapū to understand how new pest control tools and enhance kaitiakitanga and promote tino rangatiratanga.

Highlights Ngā Mahi Whakahirahira

  • A survey of key stakeholders in April and May 2020 showed that most people wanted invertebrate eradication research to focus on wasps – particularly those from the Vespula
  • The same survey showed the honeybee pest mite Varroa is a valuable research target, because of its huge negative impact on the honey industry and other industries that rely on pollinators.
  • Four PhD students have started research into:
    • How gene silencing could be used to control the parasitic Varroa
    • Next generation Varroa
    • How gene drives might be used for Polistes wasp control.
    • How gene editing might be used for German wasp control.
  • Dr Sara Moylan and Dr Ocean Mercier supervised five summer interns between Victoria University of Wellington and Worcester Polytech Institute, USA. The interns conducted user tests and evaluations of ESAT, an ecological management tool.

This work building on previous BioHeritage research into wasp eradication.

Co-leads Ngā kaiārahi ngātahi

Phil Lester

Phil Lester

Phil Lester


Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington
Ocean Mercier

Ocean Mercier

Ocean Mercier

Ngāti Porou
Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington
Bioheritage Staff Symon Palmer

Symon Palmer

Symon Palmer

Ngāi Te Rangi
Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington

Team Members Ngā kaimahi

  • Joshua Gilligan; University of Otago
  • Gemma McLaughlin; University of Otago
  • Zoe Smeele; Victoria University of Wellington
  • Rose McGruddy; Victoria University of Wellington

Research Partners Ngā hoa pātui rangahau

Resource outputs from this programme

Webinar

Pest control perceptions: comparing pesticides with next-generation control methods

In our part of the BioHeritage National Science Challenge we have been investigating the use of next-generation pest control technologies, with a focus on RNA…
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Publication

Scale and complexity implications of making New Zealand predator-free by 2050

The goal to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050 has drawn strong praise and criticism, but these critiques have focused largely on economic or technological…
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Publication

Can immune gene silencing via dsRNA feeding promote pathogenic viruses to control the globally invasive Argentine ant?

Pest control methods that can target pest species with limited environmental impacts are a conservation and economic priority. Species-specific pest control using RNA interference is…
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Publication

Gene silencing for invasive paper wasp management: Synthesized dsRNA can modify gene expression but did not affect mortality

Invasive paper wasps such as Polistes dominula are a major pest and problem for biodiversity around the globe. Safe and highly targeted methods for the control of…
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Publication

Gene drive and RNAi technologies: a bio-cultural review of next-generation tools for pest wasp management in New Zealand

There is a global need for novel, next-generation technologies and techniques to manage pest species. We review work on potential step-changing technologies for large landscape…
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Publication

Hōhā Riha: Pest Insect Control in Māori Tradition

Ongoing Māori connections to natural environments mean that tangata whenua ‘people of the land’ and mātauranga Māori ‘Māori knowledge’ must be key to identifying, designing…
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Publication

Viral communities in the parasite Varroa destructor and in colonies of their honey bee host (Apis mellifera) in New Zealand

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a leading cause of mortality for Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies around the globe. We sought to confirm the presence…
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Publication

Ecological State Assessment Tool (ESAT): a cross-cultural natural resource management tool from Aotearoa, New Zealand

A cross-cultural approach to conservation and natural resource management will enable resource managers to access the full potential of dual knowledge epistemologies and facilitate genuine…
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Publication

Experimental high-density trapping of social wasps: target kairomones for workers or gynes for drones?

Social wasps are amongst the most loathed exotic predators in New Zealand, with widespread adverse impacts on native ecosystems and fauna. Sustainable alternatives to pesticides…
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Publication

Alternatives for mammal pest control in New Zealand in the context of concerns about 1080 toxicant (sodium fluoroacetate)

The ongoing use of 1080 toxin for the control of mammal pests in New Zealand remains highly contentious. Several reviews over the last 25 years…
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Report

The use of AI (artificial intelligence) in New Zealand for the sorting of images and classification of animal pest species

This report has been commissioned by the Biological Heritage Challenge to review the current development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for sorting and classifying…
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Publication

Towards rangatiratanga in pest management? Māori perspectives and frameworks on novel biotechnologies in conservation

We gathered Māori perspectives on novel biotechnological controls for pest wasps through three distinct studies. Study participants included tertiary students, businesses, and spiritual or religiously…
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Publication

Biotechnologies in pest wasp control: taking the sting out of pest management for Māori businesses?

Māori businesses occupy primary industries said to benefit from wasp control. A Māori-centered mixed-method study gauged the perceptions of eight Māori businesses about the potential…
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Publication

The potential for a CRISPR gene drive to eradicate or suppress globally invasive social wasps

CRISPR gene drives have potential for widespread and cost-efcient pest control, but are highly controversial. We examined a potential gene drive targeting spermatogenesis to control…
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Publication

High-Quality Assemblies for Three Invasive Social Wasps from the Vespula Genus

We sequenced and annotated the genomes of the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris), German wasp (Vespula germanica), and the western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica). Our chromosome-level Vespula assemblies each…
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Media

The cutting-edge technology that could take the sting out of summer 

Wasps are a plague every summer, the unwelcome harasser at your picnic or tramping rest stop. Kathryn from Radio New Zealand talks to Gemma McLaughlin,…
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