21 March 2014

Wasp season

So far this autumn the wasps haven't been a problem, but we've still got a long way to go before winter kills off the nests — if it gets cold enough. In much of New Zealand, last winter was mild enough so many nests survived, meaning the colonies got off to a good start in spring and wasp numbers over the summer have been problematic. Both species of vespulid wasps in New Zealand (the common wasp, shown here, and the very similar german wasp) are relatively recent arrivals; free from their natural predators, parasites and diseases, they can attain huge populations. Quite apart from the very real danger to humans, large wasp nests are an ecological disaster. Wasps foraging from nests that survived the winter and grew into 'supernests' can kill huge numbers of the other insects and spiders that form an essential part of native ecosystems.

[18 March 2014, Olympus OM-D EM-1, 60mm f/2.8 macro , ISO 200, 1/200 at f/8; diffused flash]

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor


Relatively Retiring said...

Oh, the joys still to come over here. I know there has to be a reason for wasps, but sometimes it's really hard to see it.
That's a great background. Did he fly off safely after the portrait, or did your foot slip?

pohanginapete said...

RR, they do have their place, but it's not here in New Zealand. As for the fate of the wasp, given she was at about waist height on a lichen-encrusted fence batten, that would have been quite a foot slip. I think I'd have ended up in worse shape than the wasp. ;^)

Relatively Retiring said...

I can't see how this could be a problem, thinking of what you do up mountains.

Zhoen said...

Our local wasps are not much of a threat, unless there is a nest above a door. They are pollinators, again, here.

Anything out of place is a weed.

pohanginapete said...

RR, what can I say, except touché?

Zhoen, here I suspect their net effect on pollination is negative. Among other undesirable behaviours, they raid beehives.