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26 September 2000
All eucalyptus trees within one and a half kilometres of the Omanu Golf Course, Mt Maunganui, will be checked for signs of the gum leaf skeletoniser (Uraba lugens), beginning the week of 2 October.
The Australian caterpillar was first discovered in June 1997 at the Mt Maunganui Golf Course, and then later at Waitui Reserve and Omanu Golf Course. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry initiated an eradication attempt at that time, and no gum leaf skeletoniser caterpillars have been found since October 1999.
Further surveys are needed though before eradication can be confirmed.
Eucalyptus trees are to be checked on private and commercial properties, golf courses, schools, streets, parks and reserves. On MAF's behalf, surveyors from VIGIL Forest Health Advisory Services will be knocking on residents' doors during the week. If no one is home, surveyors will leave a leaflet indicating a check of any eucalyptus trees has been carried out.
Gum leaf skeletoniser caterpillars can cause serious defoliation to a variety of eucalypts. From time to time they have caused extensive damage to forests in Australia. The young caterpillars feed on the fleshy leaf tissue, leaving a lace like skeleton, which gives the insect its name.
For further information please contact:
Mark Ross, National Adviser - Forest Pest Surveillance and Response, Forest Biosecurity Group, MAF Biosecurity Authority, Ph 04 498 9611 or 025 248 3296