Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Gorse Gobbling Mites To Be Set Free Today

Mon, 13 Sep 2004

Gorse Gobbling Mites To Be Set Free Today

MEDIA RELEASE Gorse-gobbling mites to be set free todayCanterbury primary school pupils have been given an important responsibility * a tiny mite with a big appetite for gorse. Gorse is one of New Zealand's five worst weeds. In an innovative new programme, children from three Lyttelton primary schools (St Joseph's, Lyttelton Main and Lyttelton West) and Yaldhurst School on the western outskirts of Christchurch have been rearing gorse spider mites in their classrooms for a month.

Today, to coincide with the end of term, they will release the mites onto gorse infestations near their school. The project is a joint Landcare Research and Weedbusters initiative based on an Australian programme, and supported by the Department of Conservation and the Royal Society's teacher fellowship scheme.

Landcare Research technician Julia Wilson-Davey and Royal Society Teacher Fellow Richard Goldsbrough have been visiting the schools, teaching children about weeds and biocontrol agents such as the gorse spider mite."We talked about why weeds are a problem, and the various ways to control them," Ms Wilson-Davey says.

"We explained what biocontrol agents are * natural enemies of the weed they feed on, and nothing else. Gorse spider mites are widespread throughout New Zealand and their large patches of webbing are a common sight on gorse bushes in late summer.

The mites stunt the growth of the plants they feed on, killing shoots and decreasing the density of the plant. "We gave the children gorse spider mites to rear in the classroom, and they have done a great job looking after them."The gorse spider mites are very small, but their brick red colour makes them easy to see.

They are reared on gorse cuttings, eating their way up the plant and laying eggs as they go. When the mites have finished eating the cutting they are moved to a new cutting, and the process begins again."This mass rearing process requires patience and attention to detail, as well as planning ahead for care during weekends" Ms Wilson-Davey says.

"The children have shown a great degree of interest and responsibility looking after the mites." Richard Goldsbrough says as well as teaching children about weeds, the programme is teaching them that science is an important part of everyday life."Also, there were several budding scientists in those classes, asking fairly sophisticated questions such as 'what will happen when the mites eat all the gorse?' and 'how do you know what plants to test the biocontrol agent against before it's released?'""The interest in weeds and biocontrol that has been generated in these classrooms shows that the programme is achieving its aims.

The programme materials and lesson plans will be available for use in schools throughout the country next year. "Julia and I are also considering adapting the programme to focus on other weeds we have biocontrol agents for."

The children will be releasing the mites into weed infestations at the Lyttelton Scenic Reserve (up the Major Hornbrook track), TODAY, Monday 13 September, at about 11am.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Review - A Girl Named Mo

Moana Ete brought her three-piece band A Girl Named Mo to Wellington's intimate and iconic Bats Theatre last week for a five-night residency. Each show was recorded and filmed live for the release of her debut album 'Platonic/Romantic' on Loop records later this year. More>>

For The Birds: Who Will Be Crowned Bird Of The Year?

The competition involves well-known and enthusiastic New Zealanders acting as ‘campaign managers’ for their favourite birds with many going to great lengths to get New Zealanders to vote for their chosen bird... More>>


  • Greening the Red Zone - Bird of the year heats up: kōtare concedes, backs kea
  • Image Out-Link - Giselle Clarkson on Twitter
  • Gordon Campbell: On Bob Dylan's Nobel (And The Surplus)

    So Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Prize for… Literature? Wow. I’d be just as happy if he’d won for his work on particle physics (“One Grain of Sand”, “Simple Twist of Fate”) or got the Economics prize for his work on the theory of contracting (“Don’t Think Twice Its Alright”) ... More>>


    Scoop Review Of Books: Whose Goat Was That?

    Mysterious Mysteries of Aro Valley is a sharp, satirical and sometimes downright scary romp through and around that valley in ways that made me question the realities of the places I thought I knew so well. More>>


    NZ On Air TV Funding: More Comedy Comes Out Of The Shadows

    Paranormal Event Response Unit is a series conceived by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as a TV spin-off from their highly acclaimed feature film What We Do In The Shadows. More>>


    Mars News: Winners Announced For The 2016 Apra Silver Scroll Awards

    Wellington singer-songwriter and internationally acclaimed musician Thomas Oliver has won the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award with his captivating love song ‘If I Move To Mars’. More>>


    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news