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Southern Field Days – An opportunity to bug biosecurity

Media Release

Southern Field Days – An opportunity to bug biosecurity about their bugs

They’re creepy, they’re crawly, and they’re on display in the Environment Southland marquee at Southern Field Days.

Following on from biocontrol success in several areas, a raft of biocontrol agents including Dung beetles, Broom galls mites, Green thistle beetles; Gorse soft shoot moths and Ragwort plume moths will make an appearance in the council’s tent this year.

Senior Biosecurity officer Randall Milne said it would be an opportunity to educate the public about biosecurity and biocontrol agents.

“Biocontrol is about introducing a pest’s natural enemy to help minimise the impact of that pest over time. It is important people know what we are trying to achieve with biocontrol across the region.”

Some recent breakthroughs include the discovery of broom plants dying at a broom gall mite release site in Manapouri, and the confirmed establishment of the Ragwort plume moth at sites on a Tuturau property.

Randall said information about the Clover root weevil would also be on display, as we need Southlanders’ help to map their spread across the region.

“This pest has a major impact on clover production and therefore significantly affects the feed quality of pastures. It's important that people know about clover root weevil and what the damage looks like so they can manage their pastures to minimise the harm it causes.”

Environment Southland has been an active and long-time proponent of the use of biocontrol agents to help combat pest plants and was among the first regional council’s to back the introduction of Dung beetles, with recent releases onto Southland properties.

It is estimated that animal dung covers 700,000ha of pastoral land in New Zealand. Dung beetles use the faeces of animals for food and reproduction, eventually breaking it down into a sawdust-like material. The process not only gets rid of the dung, it also improves soil health and pasture productivity, reduces water and nutrient runoff, and has been shown to reduce parasitic infection in livestock.

Randall said he hoped his creepy crawlies would prove popular with the field day crowds, and was looking forward to showing off the benefits biocontrol agents provide to the region.

Southern Field Days are held at Waimumu. They run for three days, 12–14 February. The Environment Southland marquee is on site 286, in Violet Lane.

ENDS

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