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11 June 2003
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has decided to adopt a long-term
management approach, rather than eradication, to control the gum leaf
skeletoniser moth in Auckland, MAF's Director Forest Biosecurity Peter Thomson
The moth was first discovered in August 2001 at one site in Onehunga, which
was immediately treated. Monitoring of that site and the surrounding area
continued without further detections. Subsequent surveillance early this year
resulted in a large number of infested sites being identified throughout South
In February MAF put in place measures to determine the full extent of the
infestation, slow the spread of the pest and evaluate whether or not eradication
would be feasible.
"We have now determined that eradication is not an option owing largely
to the extent of the current infestation and the likely rate of spread of the
pest," Mr Thomson said.
Gum leaf skeletoniser has been detected across approximately 25,000 hectares
of Auckland, from Devonport to the north, to Wiri and Auckland Airport in the
south. Unlike the painted apple moth, the gum leaf skeletoniser female moth can
fly up to two kilometres and is capable of laying eggs in several locations.
MAF convened a group of industry and technical experts to provide advice on
gum leaf skeletoniser and the feasibility of eradication. The group determined
that eradication would require a combination of widespread removal of host trees
and aerial spraying for a period of two years. However, the chances of
successfully eradicating the pest were considered to be low and long-term
management was seen as a more realistic option.
"Any eradication effort over such a large urban area is extremely
challenging and while eradication might initially have been MAF's preferred
option it would be unwise to pursue it with such a low probability of success,
"said Mr Thomson.
As an alternative to eradication, MAF will consider options for assisting
commercial growers, councils and other stakeholders in the transition to long
term management of gum leaf skeletoniser. This support may include ongoing work
to slow the moth's spread, research into biological control agents and research
into effective control measures such as spraying options for commercial
plantations. MAF will work with interested stakeholders to determine the exact
nature of what is necessary for this transitional support, and seek Cabinet
approval for a package of measures.
For further information contact:
MAF communications adviser Tina Nixon Ph 0-27-223 2789