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  • #12825


    I have been sending out this pdf to many people, and realise that it would be easier directing people to the forum for this information instead… so here it is. If you have information regarding the wasps that will help other people, please leave your thoughts here as a comment which will benefit others too…


    March 2007

    In NZ there are two main wasps – paper wasps and the yellow and black common and German wasps. Wasps affect bee-keeping operations by competing for food with bees. Their sting also poses a potential health risk. Both types of wasp will strongly defend their nests if we get too close.

    One of our pest exterminators here in Russell dealt with a nest which was about 1.5 metres high, and almost a metre in thickness!

    The German Wasp and Common Wasp (Vespula germanica and V. vulgaris) are very similar, both with yellow and black bodies – slightly bigger than a honeybee with smooth rather than hairy bodies. German wasps are a distinct grey colour. Nests are often underground, with one or more entrance holes, although they may be found in sheltered spots such as branches of trees or caves. Common wasps’ nests are a yellowish to reddish brown.

    Australian and Asian Paper Wasps (Polistes humilis and P. chinensis respectively) are smaller and slimmer than their cousins. The Australian is brownish-black or yellowish, with light brownish yellow wings with a blue tint, whereas the Asian is yellow and black. Your regional council will probably be able to help you identify them with pictures on their website, or brochures.

    If you have wasps in your garden, there is bound to be a nest somewhere nearby. In the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun’s angle highlights them, watch for their ‘flight path’ – they will be going to and from the nest. German and common wasps are usually found as close as 200 metres from their nests. Sprinkle them with flour or icing sugar so they’re more visible; they generally fly in straight lines. Return at night and tip a tablespoon of dry Carbaryl powder insecticide into each entrance. Although the regional council doesn’t recommend it, some people tip petrol or diesel into the nest’s entrance, and then block the hole.

    Paper wasp nests are umbrella-shaped and usually hanging from eaves or in trees/shrubs. You can kill them by spraying the nest with fly spray – be careful as dying wasps may drop down and sting you. Once there is no sign of any live wasps, enclose the nest in a plastic bag and cut it off with scissors.

    An effective wasp trap can be made by cutting the top ¼ off a large plastic bottle. Glue or staple it on upside down, so the narrow opening faces down into the bottle – and then half-fill the container with a soft-drink or sugar and water, with a little detergent. Wasps will fly in to feed on the sweet solution and cannot fly out again. Another recommendation is to add a piece of smelly meat – they love the smell.

    I was puzzled as to why wasps suddenly abandoned their diet of Monarch caterpillars towards the end of summer, and found out that the wasps actually change their dietary requirements around this time – from protein to nectar.

    “The growth phase of the nest cycle is over and the wasps do not need to gather much protein to feed growing wasp larvae,” I was told by a wasp expert. “Much of the wasp activity you see in the autumn relates to mating rituals and tends to involve dancing males.”

    He said that Vespula wasp nests are also in a declining phase at that time of year, but will carry on a little longer than Polistes. He also advised that there was not much point in trying to control wasps in the autumn or spring.

    “In early Spring, many of the small founding wasp nests will fail for natural reasons, and they’re more difficult to find when small. Forget about wasp control until early summer,” he told me. “Then begin searches for paper wasp nests and control them with a good dose of fly spray at dusk or dawn to kill the adults. Snip off the nest and burn/freeze/squash to prevent new emergent wasps taking it over.”

    Paper wasps are habitual foragers that will keep returning to forage on plants that have been profitable for them in the past (which makes sense, because the herbivores they prey on tend to have clustered distributions in the environment). This is why paper wasps, like other predators, are so effective at removing all the eggs/caterpillars on any given shrub once they’ve started working it.

    Having your milkweed in pots means you can shift the plant to other locations in the garden on a regular basis to alleviate this habitual foraging effect. Another way is to monitor your plants until they have evidence of monarch eggs/new larvae, and then cover the plants in an insect screen cage to prevent the wasps getting at them.


    This and other research is funded in the main by membership subscriptions – only $20/year and in return you receive four newsletters full of practical tips to help Monarchs and other butterflies.

Viewing 19 replies - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
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  • #53552


    so where can you get the pheromones? and the sticky paper for that matter. If its freely available I imagine a few of us would be keen to try it 🙂



    Unless we make sticky traps with female paper wasp pheromones to attract male paper wasps, Asian Paper wasps and Australian Paper wasps cannot be eradicated from New Zealand.

    Germany wasps and Common wasps can be eradicated from New Zealand.

    In 1978 the MAF officers putted flyers & notices in Auckland to tell people to eradicate these Asian Paper wasps, but people just did not cared about NZ biosecurity, and allowed these exotic insects to roam freely in NZ.

    Now we have to put up with paper wasps eating our native butterfly & moth caterpillars and stinging our poor grandparents and great grandparents.

    Being stung by Paper wasps is very nasty experience for our aged people who had no idea about what like being stung by paper wasps and about Asian Paper wasps, as asian Paper wasps were here for 40 past years only.

    I had been stung by these Asian Paper wasps few times and this were much worse than being stung by Germany wasps.

    I had seen Asian Paper wasps in bush one mile east of Thames town.

    In late 1990s in Waitakere Ranges I had seen lots of Germany wasps, but no Helm’s butterflies as there are none today, through in 1983 when I was a schoolboy I found a healthy pupa of Helm’s butterfly.



    rob cooper

    the asian paper wasp is the killer of our monarchs end of story



    Wasps can be stubborn pests and being informed about their habits is the best way to battle them. All you need to know about the different types of nests and how to take care of them when needed, you can read it HERE



    Finally some success in a battle against wasps!

    I have had a number of swan plants in my garden in Haumoana for a number of years. We normally have a good supply of monarchs, caterpillars and paper wasps. I have tried various methods to keep the wasps under control. Last year I downloaded instructions from this website to build my own wasp traps but despite filling them with all sorts of goodies for the wasps, I could never entice any to enter [or at least to enter and submit to the death they deserve [according to people propagating caterpillars]].

    This year I decided to try the wasp traps that you can buy from Mitre 10. There is a fat round variety and also a black insert for a plastic drink bottle variety. I even bought some of the little bait capsules that the store sells to go inside the traps. So I played around with various baits in various positions in the garden and finally a concoction of fruit juice and kiwifruit in the fat round trap produced success: nine wasps [of which 5 paper wasps], and unfortunately four bees and a small pile of flies. I tried again in the same position without the kiwifruit, and got another wasp and two bees.

    Anyway, I just thought others may take heart that if the wasp traps don’t at first succeed, try, try, and try again.


    Dane Keriboi Hawker

    I have some paper wasps around my plants at the moment. I cant find any nests but thankfully they seem to be leaving the cats alone. I also have many bees in the swan plan flowers.



    Just found this interesting Powerpoint presentation which may be of interest to others, about social wasps.




    Good one, Jasmine. Isn’t it great to see them fly away! I love it. 🙂




    I have found the only way for me to beat the wasp problem, is to bring eggs on plant, and caterpillars (if there are any) inside with fresh cut swanplant. It gets abit messy at times and I have to keep up with fresh plant each day. I also use the noxious plant, moth plant,(aragua). I find the caterpillars will eat that well but need the swan or bloodflower as well. If they have only moth plant, they are a perfect butterfly, but smaller. When the butterfly emerges, drys and becomes strong, and begins to fly across the room, that is the time to let it fly off on a sunny day. Beautiful to watch them soar away!



    And it was a great meeting too. What an interesting speaker.




    Hey sorry you didn’t know about the meeting, I thought you got the newsletter and the reminder. Guess the system’s fallen down somehow, sorry about that.

    The meeting was really good, very interesting man, lots of valuable information and later on discussion. Read a report in the June newsletter. Who wants to write up the meeting???




    Hi Jacqui,

    I only just found out about the meeting (10:45am, Thursday) and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it. (I have absolutely nothing to wear! <g>) Shame, the speaker sounds as if he’d be well worth hearing, I’ll see what I can do. I guess it’s my fault as I come straight to the forums, not looking at the rest of the site much.

    Also, It’s currently raining here and I’ve just braved the deluge and can see no sign of any of the wasps. I guess they have more sense than I do. 🙂





    Shaun – can you bring them to the meeting tomorrow night? A sample, I mean, not all of the wasps!




    I’ve had small orange wasps visiting my swan plants. I don’t know if they’re around the rest of my garden as I’m spending all my garden-time at the swan plants at the moment. I’ve not seen them eating any caterpillars and they’re much too small to bother the butterflies. They don’t appear to be ichneumon parasitic wasps as far as i can tell. They are usually thinner in the body and have long ovipositors, although I could be wrong about that (just found a web page about ichnuemons:


    They are very fast but I managed to get a couple of half-decent pictures and have included them here:


    The last two pics. I can’t find them mentioned at this site which I discovered recently:


    If anyone knows what species they are and if they’re eating my caterpillars I’d be interested to know.

    Thanks. 🙂




    I used to spend my time killing wasps and covering my plants with nets to stop more eggs being laid and to protect the growing caterpillars from wasps because at that time I was working with one milk plant. Nature is a terrible thing but I now have hardly any wasps. The reason being that my first year plus of caterpillar were lost due to either my intervention and/or because the wasps had gorged on the caterpillar and had reduced their numbers dramatically because of the toxins in (the caterpillar), their food. I think this may be the reason that my praying mantis population has been reduced. They love to eat those caterpillar as well. I took the strange yellow aphid to our regional council as I had never seen an aphid that colour before in my district. Yes, it is an aphid! Would love to know how to get rid without destroying caterpillars or crysalis or ants or lady bugs ( who are great to have aboard when you have aphids I believe)

    Feed back will be greatly appreciated



    I have just rescued 4 catipillars from a garden up on the way back from Hawkes Bay. The people seem to have had a very good season for Monarchs. They had run out of food. A good idea is to find old mosquito nets(any colour will do) to put over the plants once they have enough eggs laid on them. The people I got the Caterpillars from said it stops too many eggs been laid and also the wasps from killing the caterpillars.So dont throw out old nets.By the way the relocated cats are doing well and one is starting to pupate



    Great work Roseanne!!! DEATH TO THESE WASPS.




    Great information about the wasps – thanks. I have had terrible trouble with the paper wasps this year eating many of the caterpillars until my husband kindly made me a sort of cage to protect some of the plants. I keep the small caterpillars in here until they are hopefully big enough to survive.I have not had any problems that I am aware of with them attacking the butterflies though. I have spent a lot of time killing the paper wasps using a plastic cup with some fly spray in the bottom and a piece of cardboard. It’s been very effective and with a little practice the wasps can become quite easy to catch – well most of the time! I have noticed a big decline in the numbers coming to my swan plants which has been great for the caterpillars.



    Thanks Jacqui for that interesing information. I have not seen many wasps this year but today was horrified when I found a yellow and black striped wasp eating a beautiful female butterfly, on my lawn. I squashed the wasp and now cannot see if it was a common or German variety. Only the wings remained of the butterfly. This is the first time I have witnessed an attack on a butterfly. I feel very sad as although we can protect the caterpillars from these predators by cosies or Shade Houses there is litle we can do about the adults. I will try and locate the wasps nest.

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