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Early Morning Motorway Alert For Moth

Early morning motorists using the Northwestern motorway next week will get another close-up view of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's fight against the painted apple moth.

A low flying helicopter will targeted aerial spray Traherne Island, and other small islands alongside the motorway on or after Tuesday 12 February - weather permitting. It is the second operation against the painted apple moth.

Spraying will start at first light, about 6.30am and should take no longer than half an hour. Signs to tell motorists about the helicopter activity will be placed along the motorway on spray days.

Motorists are being asked to keep their eyes on the road and keep moving. If they want to watch the helicopters they should exit the motorway and get a vantage point well off the road.

The spray being used is called Foray 48B, which contains an organism found naturally in soil, water and air. It only affects the caterpillars of butterflies and moths and is used to control them around the world. No special health precautions need to be taken but MAF suggests motorists wind up their windows if the helicopter is close by in case there is spray drift. The spray is slightly sticky but washes off in rain or water. If it lands on the windscreen, the washers and wipers will remove it.

The targeted aerial spraying is part of a range of measures MAF is taking to control the pest with minimum impact on people and the environment. Because of its leaf-eating caterpillar, the moth poses a big risk to New Zealand's forests and horticulture.

The helicopter will also aerial spray targeted suburbs inland along the Whau River and its tributaries, Waikumete Cemetery, Sunrise Grove and parts of Te Atatu South, Glendene, Glen Eden and the Avondale Peninsula. Six to eight sprays are anticipated with a three-week break between each session. The targeted aerial spraying programme will be reviewed after three successful sprays.

The spraying will only go ahead if weather conditions are right, with light winds and no rain. Auckland's radio stations are running regular updates on the spray programme and spray days. Motorists can also contact MAF’s free phone line if they need more information on 0800 96 96 96.

For more information please contact:

Mary-Ann Crawford MAF Communications Ph: 09 913 1827 Mb: 021 648 117

or

Wayne McDonald Transit Regional Manager Ph: 09 368 2059 Mb: 021 178 6753

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