Wasp-attacking mite to be studied

The media is abuzz over a new wasp biocontrol research project.

Mites infesting a german worker wasp - they may help control feral wasps.
Mites on Vespula germanica

Landcare research has received research funding to investigate a wasp-attacking mite which could be used to control invasive species.

Two species of European wasps, Vespula germanica and Vespula vugaris, are significant environmental and economic pests in New Zealand, attacking honeybee populations, damaging vineyard crops and competing with native birds as well as posing a safety hazard.

The mites appear to attach to wasps  in areas difficult for the wasps to groom. Wing deformation was apparent in infected wasps, and heavily infected wasp colonies collapsed.

Radio New Zealand reports that Landcare Research has been given $430,000 in taxpayer funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries, and $150,000 from other sources to investigate ways to use the mite to control exotic wasps.

Coverage of the project includes: