You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Georgian moth and beetle to target NZ weed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/02/2017

A moth and a beetle imported from Eurasia are set to be released to tackle a weed threatening New Zealand farms.

Landcare Research brought in the two insects from Georgia in 2014 to control tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum).

Tutsan is thriving in parts of the central North Island, where it costs an estimated $400 per hectare a year to combat.

Scientist Hugh Gourlay says the insects' first public release near Taumarunui next week will be the culmination of almost a decade's work.

He is optimistic the foliage-eating beetle (Chrysolina abchasica) and the fruit, leaf and stem-feeding moth (Lathronympha strigana) will be as effective as other biocontrol insects have been, such as the ragwort flea beetle and St John's wort beetle.

Mr Gourlay said a rust (Melampsora hypericorum) was self-introduced into New Zealand several decades ago and controlled tutsan throughout the country.

"But the weed, for a variety of reasons, has taken off in recent years," he said.

"We hope that by introducing some help in the form of these two new agents we can get this problem under control again."

While the North Island plants were no longer being controlled by rust, it appeared South Island plant populations still were.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon