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Spray One Against Moth Completed

After a difficult start, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has completed round one of its targeted aerial spraying operation in west Auckland against the painted apple moth.

Just after 10.30 this morning the last areas in the target zone which included a small part of Avondale, Kelston, Glendene and Te Atatu south, were finished. Waikumete Cemetery, the Avondale Pensinsula and Traherne Island were sprayed on Monday.

The first targeted aerial spraying operation has been dogged with problems including bad weather, weather changes and operational hiccups such as blocked lines and a mechancial fault in a helicopter part, which halted spraying yesterday.

There will be a few weeks’ break before spray operation number two gets underway. All residents in and near the target zone will be advised by letter. Public notices, radio and newspapers advertisements will keep them updated. MAF’s free phone line 0800 96 96 96 will continue to take calls for general inquiries.

Painted Apple Moth Facts and Figures
General Information for future spray days

The painted apple moth, a native of Australia, was discovered in the west Auckland suburb of Glendene two years ago. Since that time the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been targeting the pest with ground control measures – ground spraying and removal of the plants on which the caterpillar feeds. The pest is a threat to New Zealand forests and horticulture because the caterpillar feeds and strips foliage. If allowed to spread, the estimated cost to the country would be at least $48 million over the next 20 years.

The targeted areas for aerial spraying are Traherne Island (which runs alongside the north-western motorway), the Waikumete Cemetery, an area around the Whau River and its tributaries which includes the suburbs of Kelston and Glendene and Te Atatu south and the Avondale Peninsula.

To cover the entire targeted aerial spray area takes around seven hours. However, because of Auckland’s changeable weather the chances of completing a spray within one day are very unlikely. If the weather changes (i.e. the wind increases or rain threaten) spraying will be postponed until the next suitable morning (i.e. low winds and no rain)

MAF uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology to programme the helicopters to ensure only those properties in the targeted zone are sprayed and that properties are only sprayed once during each operation.

It may take two or even three mornings to complete the entire targeted aerial spray zone, but residents’ properties will only be sprayed once during one spraying operation.

 The targeted aerial spray zone for the first spray is 560 hectares
 About 3000 properties (residential and industrial) are within the zone
 The area to be sprayed is around the Whau River and its tributaries, Waikumete Cemetery, Avondale Peninsula and Traherne Island.
 One complete spray is expected to take seven hours – but this is unlikely to be achieved in one morning, because of the weather
 Spraying will always start at first light or the first available time weather permits
 Spraying will be scheduled for weekends but not holiday weekends
 Six to eight sprays are planned at three-weekly intervals but the programme will be reviewed after three sprays
 The proposed programme is expected to cost between $7.9 and $11.1 million over three years – depending on the number of aerial sprays and the area to be covered
 The aerial spraying targets areas which cannot be reached by ground spraying – gullies, tall trees, difficult terrain
 The targeted aerial spraying programme is in addition to ground control measures (ground spraying and removal of host material)
 The helicopter will fly at about 45 metres above ground level except in some river flat areas
 It will release the spray over 30 metre swathes
 Coverage: Five litres of spray per hectare
 About eight loads will be needed to complete the entire spraying operation
 The helicopter to be used is a BK-117 (used in rescue operations)
 Spray drift is estimated at about 200 metres downwind (worse-case scenario) of where it is released when the winds are 12 kph
 Helicopter operations will be postponed if winds rise above 12 kph
 The spray to be used is Btk-based Foray 48B
 Btk is water-soluble and found naturally in soil, air and water.
 Most people will not be affected by the spray
 No special health precautions need to be taken
 An independent health risk assessment carried out by the Auckland District Health Board concluded that Foray 48B has never been implicated in human infection or any other significant health conditions
 MAF has established a medical register for those with specific allergies or health concerns
 Health advisors are also available at advertised venues in West Auckland.

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