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Ship found crawling with exotic beetles at Wellington port

Ship found crawling with exotic beetles at Wellington port

Biosecurity officials discovered an infestation of plague soldier beetles on a vessel arriving at the Wellington port this week from Australia.

The AAL Brisbane had been targeted for full inspection upon arrival by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) after a recent spate of live beetle finds on vessels arriving from Melbourne.

“The vessel underwent a full inspection. It was found to be literally crawling with hundreds of beetles,” says MPI’s Geoff Gwyn.

“The early warning shows our intelligence and surveillance system is working well and we are targeting vessels and cargo that have the highest risk,” says Mr Gwyn.

The vessel’s operations were halted while the beetles were treated. Biosecurity staff also checked the berth and surrounding area for beetles. And port staff have been instructed to keep a look out for the pest.

MPI is investigating to determine whether there have been any breaches of the Biosecurity Act 1993. If so, charges may be laid.

Plague soldier beetles (Chauliognathus lugubris) may be harmful to native New Zealand insects. They are also a potential carrier of diseases and other pests.

The insect’s common name of plague soldier beetle is due to its habit of forming huge mating swarms.


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