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Thursday 10 February 2005
A male moth was detected in a fall webworm trap on 7 February 2005 in Mount
Wellington Auckland, Biosecurity New Zealand acting director of post-clearance
Ian Gear said today.
"We have confirmed the moth as the fall webworm, the same species of moth
that was discovered in the Mount Wellington area two years ago," he said.
"The fall webworm is considered to be a particularly serious pest as it feeds
on a wide variety of plants and could have a significant negative impact on our
urban and native trees, horticulture industry and commercial forestry.
"We were hopeful, but not confident, that we had eradicated the fall webworm
incursion that arrived two years ago. This latest find shows the success of our
continued surveillance for this pest," Ian Gear said.
Biosecurity New Zealand (BNZ) will conduct a ground search in the immediate
area where the moth was found and increase the density of the trapping grid in
BNZ developed a contingency plan two years ago after the first fall webworm
was found. Eradication options will be considered next week by a technical
advisory group. One of these options is aerial treatment.
BNZ will keep residents in the area informed of any proposed activity.
Meanwhile another single male moth was detected in a fall webworm trap on 17
January 2005 in Hillsborough Auckland.
"We have identified the moth as belonging to the Spilosoma genus, which is
the same family as the fall webworm.
Although scientists have been able to identify the moth's genus, they are yet
to identify its species. The identification has been particularly difficult
because the moth was badly damaged. The moth has been sent to an international
laboratory to confirm its genus and species.
Biosecurity New Zealand has started a response to the find, which includes
the placement of light-emitting traps at random properties within a 150 metre
radius, as the moth is nocturnal. As the fall webworm pheromone lure can attract
moths of the Spilosoma genus, fall webworm traps have been placed out to a 500
metre radius from the initial find.
"BNZ has also started a tracing investigation to try and establish the
possible entry pathway of the Spilosoma moth. Ground searches have been
completed in the Hillsborough area. There are a number of transitional
facilities within a 5km radius of this find, including two within the
"At this stage we are not sure if the Spilosoma moth is a solitary hitchhiker
from recently imported goods or from a recently established population. Further
actions will depend on the outcome of species identification.
"If Spilosoma species is confirmed, more investigation and follow-up work
will be considered, such as increased ground searches, movement control and
community information." Ian Gear said.
The majority of Spilosoma species are also known to feed on a wide variety of
For further information contact: Tina Nixon Communications Adviser on