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Moth, beetle to help battle weed

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/05/2016

An invasive and widespread weed has prompted the Environmental Protection Authority to authorise use of a new biological weapon; beetles and moths.

The tutsan weed, a yellow-flowering shrub introduced as a garden plant in the 1800s, has grown out of control throughout central North Island.

While the weed is not toxic, livestock will not eat it and it takes intensive effort and herbicides to control and reduce infestations, prompting the EPA to take a new course of action.

The larvae of the moth will feed on the leaves and stems of the plant, before burrowing into the fruit and eating the seeds, while the leaf beetle are capable stripping the plant of leaves.

"Landowners and regional councils have limited resources to control pest plants and using natural fixes, like the moth and beetle, can be an effective way of managing an invasive pest," EPA manager Ray McMillan said.

"They are self-dispersing and can seek out isolated plants that are otherwise difficult for landowners to find or access."

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