Fernhill residents are aiming stinging criticism at Queenstown Lakes District Council for not fighting a plague of wasps.
Neighbours Tania Bale and Mike Mann – forced to close their windows and doors even on hot days – fear the problem will explode if hundreds of nests aren’t destroyed before winter.
And veteran Arrowtown wasp-buster Eeon Ryan, who recently destroyed two nests at the Queenstown suburb, says he won’t return till QLDC provides more poison, expected this week.
“Until we get the powder that the council’s been dragging the chain on, I’m not going over there because all of the powder I’ve got I’m keeping for Arrowtown.”
Ryan, 81, is listed as the go-to man for wasp extermination on QLDC’s website.
Bale, who has four-year-old twins, calls the wasps “a real friggin’ nuisance”.
“I’ve called the council twice and they’re just brushing me off,” she says.
“[The receptionist] said there’s nothing they can do unless it’s on council land.
“But she said she couldn’t have a coffee outside a cafe because there’re wasps everywhere.”
Tania’s husband Lan adds: “You’ve got to be worried about the kids – they haven’t been stung yet so you don’t know if they’re allergic or not.”
Next-door neighbour Mike Mann has been stung twice.
“I was sitting on my deck eating with some friends and a wasp flew at me and stung me in the throat.
“I was scared shitless because it’ll close your windpipe up.
“There were five kids on the deck – it was lucky it was me.”
Mann – who’s also been stung downtown – believes Fernhill is infested with hundreds of nests.
“It’s like a plague. Tania’s friend who comes here quite often has got an allergy to wasps and she’ll die if she gets stung.”
Mann – whose brother John is a councillor – says for his $3200 annual rates bill “I expect a little more than getting the phone hung up in my ear”.
He’s complaining to mayor Vanessa van Uden and will follow that with a letter to Prime Minister John Key if necessary.
“How hard does it have to be just to get this problem fixed?
“It happened in Arrowtown and they cleaned up the whole town.”
Wasp-buster Ryan says only 12 nests were found in Arrowtown last year after he destroyed 800 the summer before.
Arrowtown councillor Lex Perkins believes Otago Regional Council should handle the problem – it would cost QLDC $200,000 a year, he says.
But he concedes “there’s a hell of a problem – I’ve heard it’s quite bad round the bars at night-time. So maybe council has to look at it”.