Toft arrived in Nelson around the same time that common wasps were taking over South Island beech forests.
He took part in studies to learn the impacts these invaders were having on native species. The 1996 documentary, Bandits of the Beech Forest, shows a younger, bearded Toft in Nelson Lakes National Park, studying the feeding habits of wasps and tracking native kaka.
Since then, it has become his life mission to wipe out wasps.
He’s experimented with several methods of wasp control, including sodium fluoroacetate, better known as 1080.
‘‘It’s actually quite effective on wasps but you need it a lot more toxic than you do in possum baits. ‘‘In terms of wide scale control, it just wouldn’t have been a goer.’’
Then there was Mirex, an
Richard Toft was drawn to invent Vespex from a natural interest in wasps.