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

 

Strike: Lyttelton Port Workers Vote To Escalate Dispute

Members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) at Lyttelton Port today voted to escalate their industrial action. Around 200 RMTU members have been operating an overtime ban since 17 December and today they endorsed a series of full withdrawals of labour at the port. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Dollar Falls To 3-Year Low As Investors Favour Greenback

The New Zealand dollar fell to its lowest in more than three years as investors sold euro and bought US dollars, weakening other currencies against the greenback. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Govt Operating Deficit Smaller Than Expected

The New Zealand’s government’s operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first five months of the financial year as a clampdown on expenditure managed to offset a shortfall in the tax-take from last month’s forecast. More>>

ALSO:

0.8 Percent Annually:
NZ Inflation Falls Below RBNZ's Target

New Zealand's annual pace of inflation slowed to below the Reserve Bank's target band in the final three months of the year, giving governor Graeme Wheeler more room to keep the benchmark interest rate lower for longer.More>>

ALSO:

NASA, NOAA: Find 2014 Warmest Year In Modern Record

Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: New Zealand’s Reserve Bank Named Central Bank Of The Year

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s efforts to stifle house price inflation by using new policy tools has seen the institution named Central Bank of the year by Central Banking Publications, a publisher specialising in global central banking practice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news