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14 June 2002
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has received confirmation that
the Lettuce aphid Nasonovia ribis-nigi has spread to Pukekohe and Outram near
Barney Stephenson, MAF's National Adviser on Plant Pest Surveillance and
Response said that Crop and Food Research reported these new detections to MAF
earlier this week.
"The spread of this pest has been faster than expected, but we always
knew that it was only a matter of time.
"Aphids reproduce very rapidly and are very efficiently dispersed over
significant distances by the wind. Its arrival in Auckland is not likely to be
associated with movement of produce," he said.
Dr Stephenson praised the initiatives undertaken by VegFed in alerting their
growers to the existence of the aphid after it was first discovered in
Marshlands near Christchurch in early April this year, and also for providing
them with information on controlling the pest.
"Eradication of this pest is not feasible. Within several days of its
detection, it had a confirmed distribution of over 1000 square kilometres, which
included Christchurch city. The lettuce industry now needs to take steps to
manage the pest, which would include short term control measures, and
development of a long term integrated approach".
VegFed are working with Crop and Food Research and chemical companies in
order to obtain clearance for a wider range of chemicals and to provide growers
with advice on immediate control.
Dr Stephenson said the lettuce aphid also infests blackcurrant and gooseberry
bushes but it is particularly bad in lettuces because the aphid gets in to the
heart of the plant, making it difficult to control.
These latest finds bring the distribution of the aphid to Auckland, North
Canterbury and Dunedin.
For more information contact:
Philippa White Communications Adviser 04 498
9948 or 025 2231875