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More invasive wasps expected: researchers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/01/2017

After a wet spring, Kiwis can expect to see less wasps this summer, but more in the years to come due to global warming, university researchers say.

The Victoria University of Wellington researchers found the invasive common wasp's population increased each spring.

"The patterns typically show lower numbers of wasps after cold, wet springs, and higher numbers after warm, dry springs," lead author professor Phil Lester says.

"This year we've had a really wet spring in many areas across New Zealand."

"These places ... could expect lower numbers of wasps than average this summer."

Native to the United Kingdom but established in New Zealand in the 1970s, the common wasp is a major pest in both countries.

In New Zealand it has been estimated to cost the economy more than $130 million per year.

This could prove an even greater problem in the future because warmer temperatures caused by climate change are likely to see increases in common wasps, Prof Lester said.

"We saw this at Rothamsted in the United Kingdom," he said.

"The area experienced a change in climate in the 1990s, and its warmer spring weather has resulted in considerably higher numbers of wasps."

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