This is a very pretty sight
IT DOESN’T LOOK THAT PRETTY,
but these tiny mites are a mighty development in the war against wasps, and a promising biocontrol agent against New Zealand’s wasp problem, considered the worst in the world.
Landcare Research scientist Dr Bob Brown discovered the unnamed mite in 2011 and has been researching if it is a possible biocontrol agent. His latest findings suggest it could be: wasp nests where the mites are present are 50-70 percent smaller than uninfested nests.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
Dr Brown needs people to send in wasp queens from around the country to see how many are infested with the mite. The queens are much larger than worker wasps, and hibernate in sheltered places like sheds and piles of wood, sitting quietly with their wings tucked underneath their abdomen. They tend to be very docile.
Take care when collecting a queen: • keep it refrigerated (NOT frozen) until posting; • place it in a small container with some tissue paper; • include information about where it was collected - a GPS reference is great, but an address or other location identifier is fine; • avoid sending specimens on a Thursday or Friday as specimens tend to deteriorate if they aren’t delivered until Monday.