WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

Gathering votes
Gathering votes

Wasp Wipeout

To bring a whole region - community, interest and governmental groups - together at the same time to bait for wasps over as wide an area as we can to make a massive dent in the population. If we get measurable results, roll out to the rest of New Zealand, allowing DOC to work on the harder to reach places. Now we have an easy to use and extremely effective bait, Vespex, which has been developed in Nelson we have the best opportunity we have ever had to get this started. There is nothing to stop other communities in NZ getting involved as well, if they can find someone to drive it!

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Vespula wasps are an introduced species which cause a huge amount of damage both to the environment and to our enjoyment of life. They attack invertebrates and young chicks, feed on honeydew - important for native bird and insect species - and are a significant threat to both health and recreation. Vespex is a protein-based bait which wasps take back to their nests, wiping them out. It means we don't have to find their nests and risk being attacked. It is low toxicity and not palatable to bees.

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

I am the regional editor for Fairfax Media based in Nelson and I hate wasps. We want to use our power as a medium to reach maximum audiences through Stuff, the Nelson Mail, the Nelson and Tasman Leaders, Facebook and Neighbourly to get the word out of a wasp control project the whole community can get behind. DOC, Mitre 10 and bait developer Richard Toft have agreed to be part of it and together we can provide the information and how-to, to achieve our ultimate goal - a region free of wasps. We need everyone on the same page at the same time to make it work. We are aiming for a weekend in February where we go to war! As the largest media organisation in the country, we can also roll this out nationwide and finally make real progress in controlling and eventually eradicating this most visible and irritating of pests.

What makes your idea new and unique?

There are many individuals, interest, council and government groups working on pest eradication but this would be the first time we bring everyone together at the same time to focus on one pest. A truly concerted effort involving the whole community I believe will make a real difference in the wasp population.

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

Everyone should use our idea, but especially those who enjoy using our great outdoors. Mountainbikers, trampers, forestry and tourism workers, even those who like to picnic near a beach, lake or river, will benefit by a significant improvement in our quality of life. The benefit for our native insects and birds will include more food and fewer predators. I've heard that in areas the bait has been tested, our native bush smells and sounds different with the wasps gone. Imagine that!

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

A project outline by DOC, identifying the easy-to-reach native park and bush areas on the urban fringes of Nelson puts the initial set-up and first year's baiting at about $25,000 for bait and stations. This relies on voluntary labour and doesn't include urban areas. If we can raise funds independently for that, I would like the grant to be used on developing a single use bait packaging system so the public can buy small amounts for their own backyard.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?


I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2016 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Community Guidelines


List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

Traps, Rats and Stats - I love the idea of getting school children involved as they are our future conservation ambassadors and can strong-arm their parents into action!

ET - find Kiwi - A fantastic idea using drones to track wildlife in hard-to-access places

Immersive Conservation - a great way to bring conservation into the classroom for those schools that find it difficult to fund or access field trips. 

Fiduciary Legislation - we need strong laws to protect our environment.

Bay Conservation - working collaboratively together is far more effective and makes sense!

How could you improve your idea?

Looking at some of the other ideas, it would be great to get the schools involved in some way, especially in more remote locations like Tapawera and Murchison who also suffer terrible wasp problems. 

We can also make a programme blueprint suitable for use across the country, but acknowledging that different landscapes, eg coastal, forest, may require different approaches. We need to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved.

Getting some kind of funding model worked out so people and businesses can contribute as cost can often be a big factor.

Approaching Government for help as this impacts on conservation, the environment and tourism. 

I've been overwhelmed by the support for this idea - like me there are many, many people out there who hate wasps!

Tagged users
edited on Oct 10, 2016 by Victoria Guild

Sally Kidson Oct 6, 2016

This is a great way to use the media's skills and ability to mobilise the community to share and build on all the great work scientists and conservationists are doing. It's war on wasps.


Nigeyboy Oct 6, 2016

Have you thought of a way to make the process of becoming an approved user of vespex easier?


Victoria Guild Oct 6, 2016

Thanks for your comment. We are exploring ways of having a kiosk available so users can be approved on the spot and collect the bait.


The Forest Bridge Trust Oct 6, 2016

I love this idea - mass community involvement to deal to a pest in one hit. Makes sense. You obviously have the comms skills to steer this. Hope you manage to pull this off for sake of the wildife in the Nelson area - inc the humans! Good luck.


Victoria Guild Oct 7, 2016

Thanks for your support!


Christine Officer Oct 6, 2016

Awesome initiative and such a capturing concept to get the community behind!


Victoria Guild Oct 7, 2016

Thanks Christine. I believe if we all work together we really can make a difference!


Lee Barry Oct 7, 2016

I'm really heartened to see a media organisation put its heart on its sleeve and support conservation. Nice one! With Vespex's award last year, Richard was able to quickly progress the roll-out of bait and the approved handler process, so things are well on the way. With your media skills, networks and influence, could you make this scaled up project fly without the funds? Are Fairfax proposing to put in pro-bono value or top up the grant in some way?


Victoria Guild Oct 7, 2016

Hi misslee, thanks for your support. All the work we are doing around the project is pro-bono and we will also be working to attract funding and sponsors, including internally. The idea is for it to be community-led, but we have the ability to really spread the word and get the whole region behind it.


Christopher Wingate Oct 13, 2016

I am hoping to get your support to vote for Dr Maggie Evans who until I intervened only had 2 votes. Her work is critical science to help save critically endangered birds such as the Kakapo. Please take a look and lets all give her our support. We are all in this together. Cheers- https://wwf-nz.crowdicity.com/post/285779