MPI’s National Saltmarsh Mosquito Surveillance Programme has found larvae from an exotic mosquito species, Culex sitiens, near the Kaipara Harbour.
MPI was alerted to the suspected detection of the larvae on 9 March, and further testing for identification was completed on 12 March.
Further samples are being taken in the area near the initial find, in order to identify if there is a breeding population, and if so, how far it has spread.
If there is a breeding population, it is likely that MPI will undertake a programme to eradicate the mosquito from New Zealand. MPI has successfully eradicated exotic mosquitoes in the past.
Culex sitiens is wide-spread in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Australia. It is known to transmit diseases such as Ross River virus and Kunjin virus. However, this is not currently a risk for New Zealand as these diseases are not present here. Culex sitiens may also be able to transmit Japanese encephalitis, but this has not been observed outside of a laboratory setting.
Officials from the Ministry for Primary Industries are investigating how the mosquito may have entered the country.
If people see unusual mosquitoes they can call the toll-free Mosquito Hotline number 0800 MOZZIE (0800 66 99 43).