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Beetle introduced to kill moth plant

Posted at 1:16pm Tuesday 04 Jun, 2019

A new species will be introduced to NZ to control moth plant, following a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month.

The application to introduce the moth plant beetle was made by the Waikato Regional Council, on behalf of a consortium of regional councils and DOC known as the National Biocontrol Collective.

NZ is the first country to make a collaborative effort to discover an effective biological control agent for moth plant (Araujia hortorum).

The beetles will be shipped here from Uruguay. EPA General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter, says the release of the beetle is intended to control and eradicate a widespread pest plant species.

She says root-feeding biological control agents have a successful track record and that the beetle is likely to attack only plants within the sub-tribe Oxypetalinae.

Swan plant (Gomphocarpus) and milkweed (Asclepias) were found not to be palatable to adult beetles and did not support larval development.

Few native birds are expected to be capable of feeding on the insect.

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