Last year the New Zealand Government’s announcement of a “Predator Free NZ 2050” was accompanied by a target for a significant scientific breakthrough capable of eradicating at least one small mammalian predator by 2025. Strong responses and consolidation and repositioning activity ensued. A commonly agreed gap in our understanding is whether we, as a society, would allow the use of such a control, if it existed. Does a “social licence to operate” exist for the NZ scientific establishment? For the New Zealand Government, for that matter? The National Science Challenge funds a project that seeks to answer these questions, by exploring the “social and cultural” perceptions of biotechnological controls of German and common wasp populations. Here I present key considerations informing our framing and methodology for exploring this issue, including how Maamingidae, a native family of wasps, acts as a touchstone for considering what research into wasps adds to the broader discourse around pests.