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Significant pest threat: Great White Butterfly

10 April 2013

Significant pest threat: Great White Butterfly

If anyone suspects an infestation, please call 0800 80 99 66.

What is the Great White Butterfly?
The caterpillars and eggs of the Great White Butterfly (aka the large white butterfly) are found in clusters on host plants, particularly nasturtiums, honesty and brassica vegetables. To identify it, please download a Department of Conservation (DoC) factsheet, or view images of it here. If you suspect an infestation call the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 0800 80 99 66.

A serious threat to feed crops
The Great White Butterfly is a significant pest of brassica vegetable crops. Its caterpillars feed voraciously on host plants reducing them to a skeleton. In New Zealand, it poses a major threat to commercial and animal forage brassica vegetable crops. It could also have serious consequences for the survival of many of New Zealand’s 79 native cress species.

Stopping its spread
The great white butterfly has been spreading since it was first found in a Nelson city garden in 2010. The butterfly species can fly long distances, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, so will spread throughout New Zealand unless stopped.

A multi agency attempt is being made to eradicate the Great White Butterfly while it is still in a relatively limited area. The Department of Conservation is leading the eradication programme in conjunction with Vegetables New Zealand, MPI, Tasman District Council, and Nelson City Council.

Public and farmer help in looking for and reporting Great White Butterfly infestations is essential if this pest is to be eradicated.

Please look for the butterfly’s caterpillars and eggs and report your findings to 0800 80 99 66.


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