No gypsy moths or fruit flies found in surveillance traps

July 20, 2011

When it comes to surveillance for fruit flies and gypsy moths, no news is good news.

And the word from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is that the 2010/11 trapping season has turned up nothing of concern.

These two pests both have a wide host range and would cause real trouble if allowed to establish here, says Rory MacLellan of MAF’s Biosecurity Surveillance team.

“Gypsy moths will feed on leaves or needles of most hardwood and softwood trees, and fruit flies damage fruits.”

The traps went out last September and October, placed in grid patterns and concentrated in areas where there is more trade or tourism, and districts with climates more suited to the pests.

“MAF is grateful to the around 4000 New Zealand property owners who allow the traps to be installed in trees. Together we are protecting our country from these pests.”

The trap surveillance programme costs about $2 million a year.

The gypsy moth trapping is funded through levies on high-risk imports such as used cars and goods in sea containers that enter New Zealand. MAF funds the fruit fly trapping programme.

The traps emit pheromones so that the insects think there is a potential mate there, and when they climb inside they’re trapped.

Contractor staff inspect each trap two-weekly. Anything suspicious they find is sent to a laboratory for formal identification.

The traps are taken down in May and June, and destroyed after a final check.

The fruit fly trapping programme has been going since the 1970s and the last time it got one was 1996 in Mt Roskill, says Rory.

The gypsy moth surveillance programme started in 1992 and has only once got one – in Hamilton in 2003.

The Biosecurity Surveillance team does an annual report on the trapping programme which will be published in August.

Biosecurity Month

The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, of which the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is a member, has designated July as Biosecurity month.

Biosecurity is the protection of New Zealand from harmful pests, weeds and diseases.

MAF has the lead role in managing the country’s biosecurity, with a strategy of managing risk and providing layers of protection and response.

MAF works at three levels: overseas to stop travellers and importers bringing pests to New Zealand; at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.


Media contact:
Jackie Bedford
Ph (04) 894 0471 or call the MAF Medialine: 029 894 0328


Last Updated: 20 July 2011

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