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The current update is all about patience and waiting!
Last week, following several weeks of intensive preparation and armed with all the necessary paperwork (and wasp suits…), Bob travelled to the UK on quest for new genetic stock of the parasitoid Sphecophaga. Soon upon arrival Bob has already been able to locate a good number of wasp nests, and excavation is scheduled to begin next week, when a trained assistant will be joining him. You do want someone you can trust by your side when you are busy disturbing wasps… It shouldn’t be terribly long before we find out if Sphecophaga is found inside those nests.
Bob notes that some nests have been partially excavated by badgers. Brave beasties, I reckon… But then, mustelids are… And no, we will most definitely NOT be considering badgers as biocontrol for wasps!
In the meantime here, in New Zealand, the Sustainable Farming Fund funding round has just closed, and the application to explore new agents for wasps has been submitted. The proposal makes a good case for the need to develop new agents, and enjoys an remarkably broad and generous support: from regional & district councils placed north to south, from primary industry bodies as well as from individual primary production entities, through the Department of Conservation, co-funding contributions amounted to an outstanding $194,500, spread over the three years of research. Such an amazing support sets this application in a favourable position, which I am confident will impress the panel members! It is also an opportunity to thank Janine from MPI, our project adviser, who diligently read through multiple drafts and provided excellent advice on how to focus the proposal to best appeal to the Fund.
It will be a few months before we find out the outcomes of this funding round, and rest assured you will be notified of the result one way or the other.