Yes, we have native wasps in New Zealand!
Unfortunately we also have a handful of introduced social wasps. The introduced wasps prey on native invertebrates and create a nuisance (especially for people who are allergic to their stings). But our native wasps do not live together in colonies and they do not sting. They are parasitoid wasps: a very diverse and important group, and we are just beginning to unravel the complex relationships they have with other species here in New Zealand.
During my masters research I caught 61 species of parasitoid wasps from the group I was interested in (the Ichneumonidae). Fifty-six of these species are represented here. You’ll notice most are given a ‘first name’ and then ‘sp.#’ – This means we know the first name (the genus), and we know it is a species, but it is not yet described as a species. Most of our invertebrates are like this because there are so many species and so few people to describe and name them.
“What? Native wasps?” I hear you say. Yes, thousands of them! And they don’t sting!
I was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s ‘Our Changing World Programme’ by Alison Ballance. We chatted about our misunderstood parasitoid wasps, my masters research, and the value of taxonomy. You can check out the interview here. Happy listening!