Exotic insect discovered in New Zealand for the first time

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Media contact: MPI Media Team

Biosecurity New Zealand's gypsy moth surveillance programme has uncovered a larva of the poplar sawfly, an insect that is new to New Zealand.

The larva was detected in a trap in the suburb of Abbotsford, Dunedin, and testing has confirmed it is the poplar sawfly.

Manager of biosecurity surveillance and incursion, Brendan Gould, says the species is not known to cause significant harm.

"Countries overseas where the poplar sawfly is present have not reported any major concerns about the impact it can cause. At worst, it appears to cause some defoliation of poplar trees."

The poplar sawfly is commonly found in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Mr Gould says Biosecurity New Zealand is assessing the potential risk from the poplar sawfly.

“Once this assessment is complete we will decide on next steps alongside our GIA industry partners."

Biosecurity New Zealand has undertaken surveillance in the area where the larva was found and has determined there is an established sawfly population in the area.

"We would like to hear from anybody who thinks they might have seen poplar sawfly larvae on poplar trees. This, along with further sampling in the area, will help us identify how far it has spread."

If you live outside of Dunedin and Mosgiel, and believe you have seen poplar sawfly larvae, keep hold of them, take a photo and call Biosecurity New Zealand’s exotic pests and diseases hotline, on 0800 80 99 66.

Information sheet on the poplar sawfly [PDF, 1.1 MB]

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