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Painted Apple Moth Eradication Project: Fact Sheet

Painted Apple Moth Eradication Project
Tuesday 10 September 2002

- The first aerial operation of the biosecurity programme approved by Cabinet yesterday is scheduled to start in early October 2002.

- The zone covers 7,836 hectares (twice the area of the successful 1996 white-spotted tussock moth programme in Eastern Suburbs).

- 37,530 properties will be affected.

- The aerial spray zone covers Waitakere and some Auckland City suburbs from Massey West to lower Point Chevalier and Henderson Valley to New Lynn/Mt Albert.

- The area has been selected as the best for achieving eradication, based on the best scientific information available.

- At this stage, the aerial sprays will be at 21-day intervals.

- Aircraft including a Fokker Friendship, a small fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter will be used at the same time operating in different areas. The fixed-wing aircraft will cover the large landmasses and the helicopter will tackle the seaward margins and gullies.

- In ideal conditions one operation could be completed in a day but two days is more likely.

- Spraying will start at first light if conditions are favourable.

- Up to 40 sprays over three years have been allocated.

- The operation will be reviewed regularly.

- All affected residents will be advised by letter and through newspaper advertising.

- The painted apple moth, a native from Australia, is a relative of the white tussock moth which was successfully eradicated from east Auckland suburbs in 1996-97.

- Unlike the tussock moth, the painted apple female moth does not fly, which limits its natural dispersal. This is why a staged approach to eradication was chosen to balance disruption to the community without compromising the eradication programme.

- The initial programme involved ground spraying and the removal of host plant material on which the caterpillar feeds. An ongoing comprehensive trapping programme and visual property-by-property surveys were conducted to find out where the pest was.

- Targeted aerial spraying was approved by the Government in late October 2001 to supplement the eradication programme.

- The programme to date has significantly decreased the pest numbers.

- In New Zealand the painted apple moth is a threat is to our forestry, horticulture and environment where there are few natural controls. It can feed on young pine trees (up to eight years), affecting their growth and on many different types of plants. It particularly likes wattles and acacias but has also been found feeding on over 60 plant species across 24 families.

- If it spreads, the economic cost to the country is estimated to be $58 million to $358 million over 20 years.


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