In this section
The decision-making process used is believed by many to be the best and most thorough in the world.
- New Organisms on the EPA website
- New Zealand’s Successful System for Approving Biocontrol Agents (Issue 59 of What’s New in the Biological Control of Weeds? )
- Biological agents approved by the EPA to date
All species approved for release must initially come into a containment facility until permission to remove them is granted by MAF pending evidence of their correct identity and freedom from any diseases or other unwanted organisms.
Evidence that these agents are safe to introduce to New Zealand is strong. Through extensive literature review, we set out to identify species in the Hymenoptera (wasp, bee and ant order) with ecological similarities to the target wasp species. In New Zealand, the only insects that form social colonies, nest in cavities, or underground, are the introduced European honeybee (Apis mellifera) and the introduced bumblebees (Bombus spp.). Honeybees have been studied extensively in Europe for centuries and neither of the proposed biocontrol agents have ever been recorded in honeybee hives. One species of Volucella (V. bombylans) is known to parasitize bumblebee colonies in Europe. Host testing of V. inanis on Bombus terrestris in the native range, conducted by Manaaki Whenua showed that V. inanis larvae were not able to survive on B. terrestris brood. New Zealand does not have any native Hymenoptera species that have the same social behaviour or ecology of Vespula wasps. No additional tests of native insects or other valued species in New Zealand are required because there is a wealth of evidence available overseas indicating that these agents are safe to release here. This evidence will be considered by EPA when determining whether the biocontrol agents should be released here.
The EPA application provides evidence that the proposed biological control agents for Vespula wasps will be host specific in New Zealand. Populations of the biocontrol agents may be detectable even if there are low populations of the target wasp species locally. Disturbance of ecological relationships in New Zealand is not expected to be significant. The expected benefits to New Zealand’s native fauna far outweigh any risks associated with potential non-target effects. These issues are discussed in detail in the application.
Pre-application consultation with Iwi
The members of the EPA's national Māori network (Te Herenga) were contacted in October 2019 and invited to enter dialogue on plans to apply to EPA to introduce biological control agents against Vespula wasps.
The message to Te Herenga described how the applicant intended to assess the risks, costs and benefits associated with the proposed introductions. Members were invited to identify any issues that they would like to be addressed in the application. Further consultation will be coordinated through the Ngāpuhi HSNO komiti and the Ngāi Tahu HSNO komiti.
The responses specifically related to the proposed introduction of Vespula wasp biocontrol agents were summarised and are available here:
Members of Te Herenga will be informed by EPA when the application is open for public submission and will be able to comment on how the applicant has addressed issues raised during consultation.
Consultation with South Island iwi
- Ngāi Tahu HSNO komiti
- Tasman District Council network
- Ngāti Toa Rangatira
- Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui
- Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō
- Rangitāne o Wairau
- Ngāti Kuia
- Ngāti Rārua
- Ngāti Kōata
- Ngāti Tama ki Te Tau Ihu
Pre-application consultation with other organisations
Other Stakeholders/organisations to be consulted:
- Department of Conservation staff
- Regional Councils
- QEII National Trust
- NZ Landcare Trust
- Ecological Society of New Zealand Federated Farmers
- Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand
- NZ Entomological Society
- NZ Forest Owners Association
- Apiculture NZ
- District Health Boards
A summary of responses will be provided here once consultation is complete
Brenton-Rule, E.C., Dobelmann, J., Baty, J.W., Brown, R.L., Dvorak, L., Grangier, J., Masciocchi, M., McGrannachan, C., Shortall, C.R., Schmack, J., van Zyl, C., Veldtman, R., Lester, P.J., 2018. The origins of global invasions of the German wasp (Vespula germanica) and its infection with four honeybee viruses. Biological Invasions.
Clapperton, B.K., Alspach, P.A., Moller, H., Matheson, A.G., 1989a. The impact of common and German wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) on the New Zealand beekeeping industry. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 16, 325-332.
Clapperton, B.K., Möller, H., Sandlant, G.R., 1989b. Distribution of social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in New Zealand in 1987. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 16, 315-323.
Donovan, B. J. (1984): Occurrence of the common wasp, Vespula vulgaris (L.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 11:4, 417-427.
Lester, P.J., Gruber, M.A.M., Brenton-Rule, E.C., Archer, M., Corley, J.C., Dvorak, L., Masciocchi, M., Van Oystaeyen, A., 2014. Determining the origin of invasions and demonstrating a lack of enemy release from microsporidian pathogens in common wasps (Vespula vulgaris). Diversity and Distributions 20, 964-974.
MacIntyre, P., Hellstrom, J., 2015. An evaluation of the costs of pest wasps (Vespula species) in New Zealand. Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, NZ, pp. 44.
Thomas, C. R. 1960. The European wasp (Vespula germanica Fab.) in New Zealand, New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Information Series, Ser. 27
Toft, E., Rees, S. (1998). Restructuring of Lepidoptera communities by introduced Vespula wasps in a New Zealand beech forest. Oecologia 119, 565-571.
- pdf Options for the Biological Control of Vespula wasps in New Zealand pdf File, 697 KB
- pdf Potential beneficial and adverse effects to be addressed in the EPA application to introduce one species of parasitoid fly, Volucella inanis, and the wasp nest beetle, Metoecus paradoxus, as biological control agents for the common and German wasps pdf File, 60 KB
- pdf Summary of Iwi & stakeholder responses: Vespula application pdf File, 260 KB
- pdf Summary of Volucella inanis host testing results pdf File, 239 KB