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Targeted Aerial Spraying To Go Ahead In West Ak

Targeted Aerial Spraying To Go Ahead In West Auckland

23 October 2001

The next phase in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s (MAF) programme for the eradication of the painted apple moth pest from west Auckland suburbs will commence in late November with targeted aerial spraying, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton announced today.

Aerial spraying will focus on the edges of the Whau River and associated waterways, and in the Waikumete Cemetery, areas where monitoring indicates pest populations are concentrated.

The spraying will be done by helicopter using Btk – which was used in 1996/97 in Auckland’s eastern suburbs to eradicate white-spotted tussock moth. Btk is commonly used to control moth and butterfly pests as it specifically affects the caterpillars of these species.

Ground spraying has already been done at infested sites and this will continue. The moth has been eliminated at some sites. However ground spraying has not been able to achieve complete coverage because of the terrain and height of the vegetation in some areas.

An independent study of the health of eastern suburbs residents two years after the use of Btk to eradicate white – spotted tussock moth found no adverse health patterns. A further study will be done in conjunction with the western suburbs aerial spraying programme.

About 800 properties are likely to be affected. Some of these are industrial sites.

The sprays will be carried out at 3-4 week intervals. In ideal weather conditions, only six to eight sprays should be necessary.
The number of sprays necessary will depend on weather conditions during the operation.

Prior to spraying, MAF proposes to review the environmental impact assessment carried out for the white-spotted tussock moth response in 1996-98; establish a health advisory steering group and initiate a health monitoring programme; and continue research to develop and produce a pheromone-based attractant for moth monitoring purposes.

The proposed eradication programme is expected to cost up to $11 million over three years depending on the number of aerial spray applications required, the area that needs to be sprayed, and the time needed for a synthetic pheromone based attractant to be developed.

Painted apple moth was first identified in the Auckland suburb of Glendene in mid-1999, and has since been found in the surrounding west Auckland suburbs of Kelston, Avondale, Titirangi, and Glen Eden. It has also been found in Mt Wellington and on Traherne Island.

Painted apple moth caterpillars have been recorded feeding on a wide range of host plants. An economic assessment carried out by MAF conservatively estimates potential costs of $48 million over the next 20 years to plantation forestry. Impact on the conservation estate has not been estimated, but the Department of Conservation considers it to be significant.


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