Taking the Sting out of the Common Wasp

Large-scale eradication may be in store for the humble wasp – a species responsible for one of the worst pest problems in Aotearoa.

This research is Completed

Overview Te Tirohanga Whānui

Wasps have massive impacts on native flora and fauna, along with parts of the production sector including grapes and citrus – and they’re also a public health issue and nuisance.

This BioHeritage project, led by Professor Phil Lester of Victoria University of Wellington, aims to deliver a significant change in wasp management, shifting from small-site control to eradication across large areas.

The researchers are developing four state-of-the-art technologies to combat wasps. This includes assessing their economic feasibility, social acceptability and how practical it would be to deploy them at a large scale.

The work is complemented by two other research strands:

    • the development of a wasp eradication strategy

The project presents a unique opportunity to trial new technologies and ideas to control wasps, contributing toward BioHeritage’s goal of creating a world-class biosecurity system for Aotearoa.

The research inspired Phil to write a book called The Vulgar Wasp that tells the story of Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp – and its impact on us and our biodiversity. In the book he explores how we can manage wasps and learn to live with them, and asks what they can teach us about the challenges we face for pest control.

Looking for more information?

If you’re looking for any outputs (papers, data etc) from this project that you don’t see on this page please visit our data repository.

Resource outputs from this programme


The association between mitochondrial genetic variation and reduced colony fitness in an invasive wasp

Despite the mitochondrion’s long-recognized role in energy production, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation commonly found in natural populations was assumed to be effectively neutral. However, variation…
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The Vulgar Wasp: The story of a ruthless invader and ingenious predator

In this book, entomologist Phil Lester describes the many fascinating and lesser-known sides of the common wasp. He asks: how can we manage wasps? Can…
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A metatranscriptomic analysis of diseased social wasps (Vespula vulgaris) for pathogens, with an experimental infection of larvae and nests

Social wasps are a major pest in many countries around the world. Pathogens may influence wasp populations and could provide an option for population management…
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Mitonuclear interactions, mtDNA-mediated thermal plasticity and implications for the Trojan Female Technique for pest control

Here we test whether the male-sterilizing effects previously associated with the mt:Cyt-b mutation are consistent across three thermal and three nuclear genomic contexts. The effects of this…
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