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Asian gypsy moth eggs intercepted at border

30 August 2012

The interception of an Asian gypsy moth egg mass during border checks on an imported Japanese car shows New Zealand’s biosecurity controls are working, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

An MPI quarantine inspector located the egg mass on the wheel of an imported car at the Auckland Port, says Stu Rawnsley, Manager North Cargo.

Mr Rawnsley says border staff at the port have been on high alert for Asian gypsy moth egg masses following reports from Japan that this year’s moth season is likely to be “heavy”.

“We have also had reports from Canadian and United States authorities that the number of egg masses on vessels arriving in their ports from Asia is increasing.”

Mr Rawnsley says the ministry has staff based in Japan who verify MPI-approved industry systems for cleaning and inspecting used vehicles coming to New Zealand.

“This programme, combined with our own border inspections, provides a layered approach to combating biosecurity threats that has reduced the amount of egg mass finds we have had over the last few years.”

He says inspectors pay particular attention to vessels that have visited high risk ports.

“The moths are attracted to vessels at night and lay eggs behind light fittings and inside hatch covers where they are open for loading cargo.”

Asian gypsy moths are considered internationally to be one of the most serious of all forest insect pests. They have caused widespread damage and severe economic impacts in the Northern Hemisphere.

In March 2003 a live adult gypsy moth was caught in an early warning trap in Hamilton. The find resulted in a large scale response by the then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. No more moths have been caught since then.

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