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Farmer fears for safety as wasps reach plague levels

Published: 9:39AM Wednesday April 11, 2012 Source: Fairfax

  •  (Source: Thinkstock)
    Source: Thinkstock

A wasp plague in Western Southland has one farmer worried someone could get "bloody killed".

John Broughton, of Tuatapere, said the wasp problem was so bad he feared for the safety of his family and the wellbeing of his livestock. "I've never seen this many wasps before," Broughton said.

"The wasps are at a plague level and it's got to the point where there is a worry that if the kids wander away from the house they could be seriously hurt."

Farm activity was being hindered and his shorn lambs and calves were getting badly stung if they disturbed the wasps, he said.

His property backs on to commercial gum trees managed by Southwood Export Limited and he believed the trees provided the wasps with an ideal environment.

"The wasps seem to be thriving in the gums that give off a dew which they use as a food source," he said. "There are pretty big nests every 30 metres in the forest and the exploding number has created about 40ha around the edge of the forest that is now a `no-go' area."

He has tried different methods to kill the wasps but nothing appeared to make a difference.

"Environment Southland came and had a look but said they couldn't help because people are required to get rid of pests on their own property," he said.

"No one seems to want to take responsibility for the problem and if something isn't done to control the wasps someone will get bloody killed."

He has also asked Southwood Export Ltd for help to manage the wasps.

"Last year Southwood paid half for pest control but we haven't had any help this year," Broughton said.

Southwood Export general manager Graeme Manley said Broughton and the other property owners in the Lilburn Valley were told the company would look at the wasp situation on the boundaries.