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

 

Power Outages, Roads Close: Easter Storm Moving Down Country

The NZ Transport Agency says storm conditions at the start of the Easter break are making driving hazardous in Auckland and Northland and it advises people extreme care is needed on the regions’ state highways and roads... More>>

ALSO:

Houses (& Tobacco) Lead Inflation: CPI Up 0.3% In March Quarter

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.3 percent in the March 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. Higher tobacco and housing prices were partly countered by seasonally cheaper international air fares, vegetables, and package holidays. More>>

ALSO:

Notoriously Reliable Predictions: Budget To Show Rise In Full-Time Income To 2018: English

This year’s Budget will forecast wage increases through to 2018 amounting to a $10,500 a year increase in average full time earnings over six years to $62,200 a year, says Finance Minister Bill English in a speech urging voters not to “put all of this at risk” by changing the government. More>>

ALSO:

Prices Up, Volume Down: March NZ House Sales Drop 10% As Loan Curbs Bite

New Zealand house sales dropped 10 percent in March from a year earlier as the Reserve Bank’s restrictions on low-equity mortgages continue to weigh on sales of cheaper property. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Chorus To Appeal Copper Pricing Judgment

Chorus will appeal a High Court ruling upholding the Commerce Commission’s determination setting the regulated prices on the telecommunications network operator’s copper lines. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Cars: Precautionary Recalls Announced For Toyota Vehicles

Toyota advises that a number of its New Zealand vehicles are affected by a series of precautionary global recalls. Toyota New Zealand General Manager Customer Services Spencer Morris stressed that the recalls are precautionary. More>>

ALSO:

'Gardening Club': Air Freight Cartel Nets Almost $12 Million In Penalties

The High Court in Auckland has today ordered Swiss company Kuehne + Nagel International AG to pay a penalty of $3.1 million plus costs for breaches of the Commerce Act. Kuehne + Nagel’s penalty brings the total penalties ordered in this case to $11.95 million ... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Revenue Below Projections

Core Crown tax revenue has increased by $1.9 billion (or 5.0%) compared to the same time last year. However this was $1.1 billion less than expected and is reflected across most tax types, continuing the pattern of recent months. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news