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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Vespula vulgaris (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), common wasp

Agent introduced: Sphecophaga vesparum burra (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)


1979, 1991-95

Import source:

Washington State, USA (1979), Washington State, Idaho, USA (1990s)

Import notes:

Beggs et al. (2002) - 1979 introduction: S. v. burra obtained from Vespula atropilosa colonies in Washington State, and 798 cocoons were imported. Rearing this subspecies proved difficult, and by late 1982 the population in New Zealand was extinct. 1990s introductions: at least 560 cocoons collected from V. vulgaris, Dolichovespula maculata and D. arenaria colonies in Washington State and northern Idaho between 1991 and 1995.


1979-1980 (from 1979 importation), 1996-98 (from 1990s importations)

Release details:

Cameron et al. (1989) - four cocoons and two female parasitoids were released into V. germanicus nests at Lincoln 1979/80.

Beggs et al. (2002) - two methods of release: overwintering cocoons in release boxes and nest inoculation with parasitised wasp comb. Binser Track (Canterbury) - 1996/97/98 (13,200 cocoons); Tennyson Inlet (Marlborough) - 1996/97/98 (13,660); Sharplin Falls (Canterbury) - 1997 (1,000); Waitakere Ranges (Auckland) - 1996/97 (5,490); Murchison (Tasman) - 1997 (1,000); Athenree Gorge (Bay of Plenty) - 1998 (300); Mayor Island (Bay of Plenty) - 1998 (700).


Cameron et al. (1989) - no evidence of establishment was found.

Donovan et al. (2002) - to date no evidence this subspecies has established.

Beggs et al. (2002) - 310 nests were inspected post-release (1997, 1998, 2001) at Binser Track and Tennyson Inlet; no parasitised nests, other than those directly inoculated, were recovered. There is no evidence S. v. burra has established in New Zealand.

Bob Brown (Landcare Research) (2018 - pers. comm.) - Sphecophaga vesparum burra has never been recovered in the field in New Zealand despite the many releases.


Beggs JR, Rees JS and Harris RJ. (2002). No evidence for establishment of the wasp parasitoid, Sphecophaga vesparum burra (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) at two sites in New Zealand New Zealand Journal of Zoology 29: 205-211

Cameron PJ, Hill RL, Bain J, Thomas WP (1989). A Review of Biological Control of Invertebrate Pests and Weeds in New Zealand 1874-1987. Technical Communication No 10. CAB International Institute of Biological Control. DSIR Entomology Division. 424p.

Donovan BJ, Havron A, Leathwick DM and JS. (2002). Release of Sphecophaga orientalis (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae) in New Zealand as a possible 'new association' biocontrol agent for the adventive social wasps Vespula germanica (F.) and Vespula vulgaris (L.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae). New Zealand Entomologist 25: 17-25 https://doi.org/10.1080/00779962.2002.9722090