eCite Digital Repository

The effects of introduced vespid wasps (Vespula germanica and V. vulgaris) on threatened native butterfly (Oreixenica ptunarra) populations in Tasmania


Potter-Craven, J and Kirkpatrick, JB and McQuillan, PB and Bell, P, The effects of introduced vespid wasps (Vespula germanica and V. vulgaris) on threatened native butterfly (Oreixenica ptunarra) populations in Tasmania, Journal of Insect Conservation, 22, (3-4) pp. 521-532. ISSN 1366-638X (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10841-018-0081-9


Introduced vespid wasps (Vespula germanica and V. vulgaris) are highly efficient predators of native invertebrates. They have the potential to reduce populations of threatened species and change ecosystem dynamics, yet their impact is largely unknown in Australia. The introduction of vespid wasps has coincided with a decline in numbers of threatened Ptunarra brown butterflies (Oreixenica ptunarra) in Tasmania, Australia. The Ptunarra brown butterfly is endemic to Tasmania, where its habitat has been fragmented by clearance for agriculture and forestry. Local extinctions of the species were previously thought to be principally due to its inability to fly the long distances between habitat patches in this disjointed landscape. We investigate the importance of the new threat of vespid wasp predation in the decline of O. ptunarra in the highland grasslands of northwest Tasmania. Numbers of O. ptunarra analysed over a period of 15 years dramatically declined after the arrival of vespid wasps. Wasp control was trialled to determine whether it affected butterfly numbers. Current control methods decreased wasp numbers considerably, resulting in a small increase in butterfly numbers, indicating that wasp predation is keeping O. ptunarra at low densities. Without ongoing conservation measures, it is likely that butterfly numbers will stay low, potentially leading to genetic bottlenecks and more local extinctions. An increase in the intensity of wasp control, in combination with other conservation management methods, is required for the protection and recovery of O. ptunarra.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:butterfly, wasp, Oreixenica, threatened species, introduced species, conservation, trap, invertebrate, alpine
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in fresh, ground and surface water
UTAS Author:Potter-Craven, J (Ms Josephine Louise Potter)
UTAS Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
UTAS Author:McQuillan, PB (Mr Peter McQuillan)
UTAS Author:Bell, P (Dr Phillip Bell)
ID Code:132242
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2019-04-30
Last Modified:2019-06-12

Repository Staff Only: item control page