11 Sep 2020

Giant wasp nest took two years to reach final size

8:53 am on 11 September 2020

A huge wasp nest found in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park is believed to have been expanding for about two years.

Huge wasp nest discovered at Karekare beach area of Waitākere Ranges Regional Park

The huge nest had collapsed after being hit by a storm and is now about half its original size. Photo: Auckland Council / Jay Farnworth

The nest, originally the size of a two-person tent, was discovered in the Karekare beach area of the regional park.

Hanging high in a tree, the nest is built from a collection of sticks, bark and leaves.

Auckland Council said it would have been home to tens of thousands of wasps.

The nest is believed to have been expanding for up to two years to its final size of about 1m x 2m x 2.5m.

If it hadn't already collapsed after being being hit by a storm the council would have brought in a specialist to control it, Auckland Council senior ecological advisor Sarah Gibbs said.

The common wasp not only has painful sting, but it is also a voracious hunter and gatherer, preying on many native chicks and invertebrates.

"It's a fair number of wasps feeding on insects in the local area," Gibbs told First Up.

"A wasps' nest that size would have thousands of wasps in it - and while one wasp is a problem if you have an anaphylactic reaction, that many wasps is a problem for anyone if you come across a nest."

The nest is unlikely to be re-populated as the queens will have already moved on to set up home somewhere else, she said.

Most wasp nests die off in late autumn after the queens and drones have produced, but Gibbs says a nest this size would have been large enough to survive a winter.

Queens in an overwintering nest would establish multiple satellite nests in spring enabling the wasps to quickly repopulate the area as the weather warmed up.

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