14 Mar 2014

Scientists hunt down clover pest

2:01 pm on 14 March 2014

AgResearch scientists are taking to the paddocks in Canterbury to hoover up as many clover root weevils as they can find.

Scott Hardwick vacuums up clover root weevils.

Scott Hardwick vacuums up clover root weevils. Photo: AGRESEARCH

The insect attacks and destroys clover and is one of the worst pasture pests. After a mild winter and spring the population in Southland has boomed.

Lincoln-based team leader Scott Hardwick said they are sweeping up weevils from Canterbury pasture - in particular those carrying the eggs of a tiny parasitic wasp which kill the weevil as they hatch.

The weevils will be sent to Southland, where farmers are suffering serious pasture damage from the pests.

"We used a modified leaf blower with a net in it, and we just walk round and round the pasture until the net within the leaf blower is full of material, and then we sieve the weevils out, " he said

Dr Hardwick said the scientists are about 10 percent of the way to getting the 1 million parasitised weevils they want to collect.