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Forest and Bird welcomes tests on skeletoniser

Forest and Bird welcomes tests on skeletoniser

Forest and Bird is welcoming MAF Biosecurity Authority’s decision to test whether the gum leaf skeletoniser moth in South Auckland eats native trees.

MAF Biosecurity Authority has advised Forest and Bird that it would undertake host testing of eleven native species including rata, pohutukawa, kanuka and manuka. Forest and Bird has been advocating host testing in case the pest eats native trees.

Like the painted apple moth, the gum leaf skeletoniser has toxic hairs. It is also a risk to gum tree forests. However, the threat to native plants is completely unknown.

“A number of native trees are related to eucalypts. They include New Zealand icons like rata and pohutukawa as well as other well known and important trees like manuka and kanuka. Each of these species has an important role to play in New Zealand’s natural ecosystems,” Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey said.

“At the moment no-one knows whether the skeletoniser eats native trees or not. That’s not good enough. Forest and Bird is pleased that the government has belatedly decided to find out.”

“Forest and Bird hopes that checking whether pests can eat native plants will become a standard procedure in future”, Geoff Keey said.

Notes:

The list of species to be tested. Leptospermum scoparium - manuka Kunzea ericoides - kanuka Metrosideros excelsa - pohutukawa Metrosideros robusta - northern rata Metrosideros umbellata - southern rata Metrosideros fulgens - rata vine Metrosideros diffusa – white rata vine Lophomyrtus bullata - ramarama Lophomyrtus obcordata - rohutu Neomyrtus pedunculata - rohutu Syzygium maire - maire tawaki

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