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14 April 2004
A potentially devastating incursion of the Gypsy moth has been averted with
the discovery of two moth egg masses on an imported vehicle at the Port of
MAF Quarantine Officers inspecting the four wheel drive vehicle, which had
been unloaded from a vessel from Japan, found the suspected Gypsy moth egg
masses on the spare tyre mounted on the back of the vehicle.
Nelson Quarantine Officer Jaimie Baird says the large and healthy looking egg
masses were discovered on internal inspection of the vehicle, which included
removal of the spare tyre.
"The vehicle has now been put up on a ramp and thoroughly inspected, both
inside and underneath the chassis," Jaimie Baird says. "It has also been steam
cleaned as a precaution to ensure no viable eggs remain."
The egg masses themselves will be sent to a laboratory for final
identification, although the Quarantine Officers who made the discovery believe
they are Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar).
The four wheel drive was one of around 40 vehicles unloaded from the car
carrier Violet Ace. Jaimie Baird says three quarters of those vehicles required
extra cleaning, although no further egg masses were found.
MAF's Director of Forest Biosecurity Peter Thomson says it's impossible to
overestimate the significance of this find. "Gypsy moth is one of this
country's most-feared moth pests. Earlier this year MAF ran a campaign to
eradicate it in Hamilton following the discovery of a single male moth there
last year. It's suited to cool climates and is a voracious consumer of conifers.
Its impact on South Island forests could have been devastating," Peter Thomson
Forestry is of major importance to the Nelson-Tasman region, which has an
estimated 100,000 hectares in plantation forest - about 86 percent in radiata
pine, with douglas fir making up most of the remainder.
This represents 11 percent of Nelson's total land area and 5.5 percent of New
Zealand's total plantation forests. Nelson's forest harvest has risen from one
million cubic metres in 1998 to 1.57 million cubic metres in 2003. Forestry and
wood processing is one of the key sectors of the Nelson-Tasman economy, along
with seafood, tourism and farming.
For further information, contact:
Jaimie Baird, MAF Quarantine Officer, Nelson
Ph. 03 545 7774 or 027 433 7149 (for enquiries regarding the actual find)
Peter Thomson, Director, Forest Biosecurity Ph. Ph: 04 498 9639 or 027 233 8286
(for further information regarding the Gypsy moth)
Digital photographs of the egg masses are available from the Nelson
Quarantine Service office – phone no. above.