Conserving areas of bush and forest in cities is essential to the conservation of New Zealand’s wasp species, according to research from Victoria University.
With more than 1,000 native species, wasps are an important part of New Zealand’s biodiversity says Dr Rudi Schnitzler.
“Despite their fearsome reputation, very few wasps are capable of stinging humans; most tend to paralyse other insects. They play an essential role in the control of insects and are often deliberately used to control pest species such as the apple leaf roller moth in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.”
Dr Schnitzler’s PhD focussed on the effect diminishing amounts of native bush in urban areas has on native and introduced wasp species. He found that the greater the proximity of reserves and parks, the greater the number of wasps and the better the health and diversity of the species.
His findings are important for the conservation of urban bush and forest areas and have implications for city planners. “It’s important to have many different types of plants in any section of forest or bush. The more variety in terms of species of plants, the more likely you’ll find a pool of insects that nature can maintain.”
He says backyard gardeners can play a part in increasing the diversity of flora and fauna of cities, especially in Wellington where sections of forest and bush are in close proximity to backyards.
Dr Schnitzler spent more than two years collecting and analysing wasps at 10 sites around the greater Wellington region.