1 Feb 2019

EPA considers bringing beetle to control 'threat' to NZ fauna

11:46 am on 1 February 2019

The Environmental Protection Authority is considering an application to introduce a root-feeding beetle to control a noxious weed from South America, which smothers the growth of native plants.

Araujia hortorum pod.

Photo: Auckland Council

The applicant is the Waikato Regional Council, acting on behalf of several other councils and the Department of Conservation.

It said the weed moth plant, or Araujia hortorum, is a significant threat to New Zealand fauna.

Environmental Protection Authority senior official Clark Ehlers said the moth weed plant was well established in Auckland and Northland, and is known to spread across plants as well as backyard fences, walls and power poles.

It easily becomes a dominant species and replaces native plants.

Dr Ehlers said latex sap from broken stems could cause skin burns and irritations, and was toxic to dogs, poultry and cattle.

He said if the moth plant beetle, or Freudeita cf cupripennis, is approved it would pave the way for the beetle to work alongside a rust fungus approved in 2015, to help control moth weed across New Zealand.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs