Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Mighty moths flown in to ravage ragwort

www.landcareresearch.co.nz

Mighty moths flown in to ravage ragwort


PHOTO CAPTION: Anything but boring: This crown boring moth has arrived in New Zealand with an important mission - to destroy the noxious pasture pest, ragwort. PHOTO: Hugh Gourlay


New troops have arrived to wage war on one of New Zealand's worst weeds, and are undergoing safety checks before being deemed battle-worthy.Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) replaces pasture, and can cause fatal liver damage if eaten by cattle and horses.

Biological control agents including the ragwort flea beetle have been released nationwide to attack ragwort plants. But although these have destroyed significant amounts of ragwort (up to 100% in some cases), they have failed to make a real indent on the West Coast, where overall, the problem is as bad now as it was 20 years ago. Landcare Research has been leading the charge to find alternative biocontrol agents, better suited to the wet conditions of areas like the West Coast.

Landcare Research weed researcher Hugh Gourlay says that with ERMA (Environmental Risk Management Authority) approval, about 350 ragwort crown boring moths (Cochylis atricapitana) have just arrived in New Zealand. The moths were placed in containment upon arrival, and over the next 18 months will undergo testing to determine whether they will eat anything other than ragwort.The crown boring moths will be joined next month by the ragwort plume moth (Platyptilia isodactylus).

The plume moths will also be kept in containment and undergo the same tests. Mr Gourlay says the moths are of European origin, but have been sourced from Tasmania, where they both have successfully established in the wild. "The two moths are better adapted to wet soils and wet climates than the ragwort flea beetle.

Some areas of Tasmania have a wet climate similar to the West Coast, and a similar ragwort problem.

"The crown boring moths have had good results there. Ragwort plants attacked by them produce fewer seeds, and show reduced growth and flowering. In some cases, the moth kills the entire plant.

"The plume moth attacks the roots of ragwort plants. It is too early to tell the plume moth's overall impact in Tasmania, but early results look promising.

"Neither moth has eaten any plant besides ragwort, which is also an encouraging sign."

Mr Gourlay says the new arrivals are the first new agents for the biocontrol of ragwort since 1981 when the ragwort flea beetle was introduced.Subject to approval from ERMA, the moths will be released into the West Coast environment by the end of 2005.

Several other places of similar climate throughout New Zealand may benefit from the introduction of these moths, including Southland and Waikato.

The project to import the moths was initiated by West Coast farmers and the New Zealand Landcare Trust, with funding from farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Sustainable Farming Fund, the West Coast Development Trust, the West Coast Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird (West Coast branch) and Westland Milk Products.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Half Full: Dairy Payouts Steady, Cash Will Be Tight

Industry body DairyNZ is advising farmers to focus on strong cashflow management as they look ahead to the 2015-16 season following Fonterra's half-year results announcement today. More>>

ALSO:

First Union: Cotton On Plans To Use “Tea Break” Law

“The Prime Minister reassured New Zealanders that ‘post the passing of this law, will you all of a sudden find thousands of workers who are denied having a tea break? The answer is absolutely not’... Cotton On is proposing to remove tea and meal breaks for workers in its safety sensitive distribution centre. How long before other major chains try and follow suit?” More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ-Korea FTA Signed Amid Spying, Lost Sovereignty Claims

A long-awaited free trade agreement between New Zealand and South Korea has been signed in Seoul by Prime Minister John Key and the Korean president, Park Geun-hye. More>>

ALSO:

PM Visit: NZ And Viet Nam Agree Ambitious Trade Target

New Zealand and Viet Nam have agreed an ambitious target of doubling two-way goods and service trade to around $2.2 billion by 2020, Prime Minister John Key has announced. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Economy Grows 0.8% In Fourth Quarter

The New Zealand economy expanded in the fourth quarter as tourists drove growth in retailing and accommodation, and property sales increased demand for real estate services. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: RBNZ’s Wheeler Keeps OCR On Hold, No Rate Hikes Ahead

The Reserve Bank has removed the prospect of future interest rate hikes from its forecast horizon as a strong kiwi dollar and cheap oil hold down inflation, and the central bank ponders whether to lower its assessment of where “neutral” interest rates should be. The kiwi dollar gained. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news