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21 May 1999
Over the next month, the weekend spraying operations against painted apple moth are to continue in the West Auckland suburb of Glendene in an attempt to eradicate the moth.
The programme has been devised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Waitakere City Council and the Forest Research Institute's forest health team.
The six infested properties and neighbouring Waitakere City Council reserve strips will receive four complete sprays over the next three to four weeks. Five of the six infested properties are clustered together, and with one about 300 metres away. The entire area involved is less than one square kilometre. All known infested sites will be checked for the presence of painted apple moths and caterpillars at weekly intervals to confirm the effectiveness of the spray programme.
These sites will be sprayed with the widely-used organo-phosphate, chlorpyrifos (pron: clor-pirro-fos), during weekends. Chlorpyrifos remains effective against insects for seven to 14 days.
These properties received their first spray a fortnight ago. A plan to spray again last weekend had to be postponed until this weekend due to wet windy weather.
Vegetation is also being removed from some of the infested properties. This mainly involves cutting grass and removing gorse and other weeds, and, in the case of the more inaccessible council reserve areas, removing host trees which are difficult to reach to spray.
Two further monitoring surveys involving all the properties within a 300 metre radius of the original find site will be conducted during the next two months.
More than 300 Aucklanders have now rung MAF to report insects they think may be the moth or its caterpillar. To date, none of these have in fact turned out to be painted apple moth, but MAF appreciates the interest being shown.
While the moth itself looks like many others and can only be identified under a microscope, the caterpillar is quite distinctive. It is large (up to 2 to 3 centimetres long, although they can be smaller ), fat, and very hairy. It is covered from tip to tip with long gray hairs, and four distinct tufts, like tiny shaving brushes. It is gray and yellowy-orange, but its hairiness tends to make it appear quite muted in colour. The hairiness is a key identifying feature - anything without profuse hair all over it is not the painted apple moth caterpillar.
If members of the public think they have a likely candidate, they should call MAF's National Plant Pest Reference Laboratory at Lynfield on 09-627 2534 (not the main number listed in the phonebook).
Media inquiries to:
Dr Ruth Frampton, Chief Forestry Officer, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (025) 350 801
Debbie Gee, Director, Corporate Communications, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (04) 474 4258