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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Vespula germanica (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), German wasp

Agent introduced: Sphecophaga vesparum burra (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)


1979, 1991-95

Import source:

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

Import notes:

Cameron et al. (1989) - in August and September 1979, four shipments of S. v. burra cocoons (from Vespula atropilosa nests), totalling 798 cocoons, were received at Lincoln, Canterbury from Washington State, USA. By June 1980, 81 females and three males had emerged. In quarantine, 49 first generation cocoons, from which some releases were made, were produced in comb of V. germanica. Subsequent attempts to break diapause of imported prepupae in cocoons failed, other than a few females emerging sporadically and unpredictably over an 18-month period. Several cocoons were produced on V. germanica in quarantine, but by late-1982 the colony was extinct.

Beggs et al. (2002) - at least 560 cocoons collected from V. vulgaris, Dolichovespula maculata and D. arenaria colonies in Washington State and northern Idaho, USA were imported between 1991 and 1995.


1979 (from 1979 importation), 1996 (from 1990s importations)

Release details:

Cameron et al. (1989) - four cocoons and two female S. v. burra adults raised in quarantine were released into field nests of V. germanica at Lincoln, Canterbury, South Island from November 1979 to February 1980.

Beggs et al. (2002) - there were two methods of release of S. v. burra imported in the 1990s: overwintering cocoons in release boxes and nest inoculation with parasitised wasp comb. Releases were as follows: 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) - dissections in March and May 1980 of V. germanica nests into which S. v. burra had been released showed no attack by the parasitoid.

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