Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Butterfly Fans Urged To Kill Moth Plant

MEDIA RELEASE
0800 002 004 | www.nrc.govt.nz Putting Northland first

Date: 11 February, 2013

Butterfly Fans Urged To Kill Moth Plant

The moth plant has added ‘butterfly killer’ to a resume that has already earned it the dubious distinction of being one of the region’s most unwanted pest plants and a reputation as a weed local biosecurity experts love to hate.

Sara Brill, a biosecurity officer for the Northland Regional Council, says
moth plant (Araujia sericifera) is a highly invasive and toxic vine ranked among Northland’s top five non-pastoral climbing pest plants.

“It invades and smothers native forest areas, garden shrubs, shelterbelt trees and roadside plants and its milky, sticky sap can also cause skin irritation and ill health.”

However, Ms Brill says as if there weren’t already enough reasons to heartily dislike moth plant, its flowers can also fatally trap the Monarch butterflies many Northlanders love to see around their neighbourhoods.

She says moth plants are just one of a host of dangers Monarchs face, which begin when they emerge from eggs as caterpillars.

“They’re often taken away by ravaging wasps carrying them off to feed their babies.”

Ms Brill says those caterpillars which survive wasps and other perils long enough to turn into butterflies then look around for flowers and nectar for food.

“The moth plant - or perhaps more aptly named ‘cruel plant’ as it is sometimes known - has masses of lovely flowers full of nectar at the moment. Unfortunately, what the unsuspecting butterfly doesn’t know is that this nectar is so sticky it will trap the butterfly’s tongue and it can’t get away.”

Ms Brill says the trapped butterflies often die with their tongues firmly stuck in the flower and she and a colleague had recently come across a relatively small moth plant in Whangarei that held a number of dead Monarchs trapped in its flowers.

The plant is common throughout Northland and is easily recognised by its climbing vine, with paired, oblong leaves and distinctive small, clustered white flowers which develop into choko-like seedpods. It has a white, sticky sap.

She says people keen to get rid of moth plants can remove small infestations by hand.

“Seedlings are easy to pull but even large plants can be easily killed by finding the main root and pulling out about 5cm of the root. The plant will wilt within 24 hours and you can see if you have missed any smaller ones. Pull them out on public land when you see them and offer to pull out your neighbours’ moth plants as well!”

Ms Brill says large infestations may need to be over-sprayed using 5g metsulfuron methyl (for example Escort®) plus 10 ml penetrant in 10 litres of water.

“Ensure only the foliage is treated as this herbicide can transfer in the soil and kill surrounding plants, including natives.”

Those keen to help butterflies can also plant environmentally species that are good safe sources of food for them including Alyssum, bee balm, Cosmos, Echinacea, lavender, marigolds (single petal varieties), Michaelmas daisy, Mexican sunflower, Rudbeckia, Shasta daisy, snapdragon, Solidago, sweet William, sunflower, Verbena and Zinnia.

For more information about pest animals or plants in your back yard contact the Northland Regional Council on 0800 002 004 and ask to speak to a biosecurity officer or visit www.nrc.govt.nz/nasties


Credit: Ross Johnson
The remains of a Monarch butterfly, killed when its tongue became trapped in sticky moth plant nectar.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Missed Opportunities: Amnesty International Report Card On NZ's UN Role

As New Zealand steps down from its month as President of the Council, Amnesty International has taken the opportunity to review New Zealand’s role on the Council so far and assess their performance and contribution to protecting human rights worldwide. More>>

ALSO:

Prince Charles Get More Jobs: PM Announces Honorary Military Appointments

PM John Key has announced that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of HRH The Prince of Wales to three honorary positions: Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal New Zealand Navy; Field Marshal, New Zealand Army; Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. More>>

ALSO:

No TPP Deal: Gordon Campbell On Why We Should Still Oppose Investor-State Dispute Measures

Even in this dark hour for the TPP, the secrecy farce continues... What is left to hide? Every single negotiator went into those talks in Maui knowing exactly where everyone else stood. More>>

REACTION:

Salvation Army On Homelessness: Hard Times In West Auckland

The report details an uncomfortable story of people whose only option is to live an unhealthy, dangerous and damaging street life... The social housing needed by these people is not currently available in sufficient quantity. More social housing is required in the West. More>>

ALSO:

Message For PM: NZ Supports Te Reo Māori – You Should Too

As Māori Language Week celebrations and commemoration of 40 years draws to an end, the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, is once again hugely encouraged by the widespread support for Māori language from throughout the country ... More>>

ALSO:

Arming Police: Frontline Police To Routinely Carry Tasers

"In making the decision, the Police executive has considered almost five years worth of 'use of force' data… It consistently shows that the Taser is one of the least injury-causing tactical options available when compared with other options, with a subject injury rate of just over one per cent for all deployments." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On D-Day For Dairy At The TPP

While New Zealand may feel flattered at being called “the Saudi Arabia of milk” it would be more accurate to regard us as the suicide bombers of free trade. More>>

ALSO:

Leaked Letter: Severe Restrictions on State Owned Enterprises

Even an SOE that exists to fulfil a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act "on the basis of commercial considerations" and would be prohibited from discriminating in favour of local businesses in purchases and sales. Foreign companies would be given standing to sue SOEs in domestic courts for perceived departures from the strictures of the TPP... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news