Beetle application could boost arsenal against weed
THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2019
EPA: Beetle application could boost arsenal against weed moth plant
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application to introduce a root-feeding beetle to control the weed moth plant, a noxious weed which smothers the growth of native plants in communities in the North Island.
The applicant is the Waikato Regional Council, acting on behalf of a consortium of regional councils and the Department of Conservation, known as the National Biocontrol Collective.
In documents filed by the applicant the Waikato Regional Council has spent more than 1400 hours of biosecurity staff time over the past six years helping to control 700 sites in Waikato where the weed has established itself. They describe weed moth plant (Araujia hortorum) as a significant threat to conservation values and urban environments.
Dr Clark Ehlers, EPA Senior Advisor New Organisms says: “Moth weed plant is well established in Auckland and Northland and is known to spread across plants as well as backyard fences, walls and power poles, where is becomes the dominant species and replaces native plants.
“The latex sap from broken stems can cause skin burns and irritations and is toxic to dogs, poultry and cattle.”
“If the moth plant beetle (Freudeita cf cupripennis) is approved by the EPA, it would pave the way for the beetle to work alongside a rust fungus approved in 2015, Puccinia araujiae, to help control moth weed across New Zealand,” says Dr Ehlers.
Members of the public have until Friday 15 March 2019 to make a submission on the application.