Res­i­dent fights a creepy pest

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SHEL­LEY GRECO

Moth vines are a na­tional pest and a West­mere res­i­dent is ad­vis­ing her neigh­bours on how they can help in the fight to re­duce their num­bers.

Cather­ine Perry has started a cam­paign to in­form neigh­bours of how to iden­tify and con­trol the moth plant by drop­ping fly­ers in their mail­boxes.

‘‘The com­mu­nity has to get in be­hind this now,’’ she says.

‘‘We have to look af­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal weeds on our own prop­er­ties as much as we can be­cause the agen­cies do not have the re­sources.

‘‘As I walk about the West­mere area, I am be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ag­i­tated at the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the in­sid­i­ous moth vine.

‘‘It is flow­er­ing mag­nif­i­cently right now, each flower re­sult­ing in a large pod con­tain­ing up to 500 seeds, all of which are most likely to cre­ate yet an­other plant to smother any­thing in its path, in­clud­ing na­tives.’’

Mrs Perry first be­came aware of the moth plant when she mis­took it for a ‘‘pretty vine’’.

That was more than 10 years ago and now she is aware of what dam­age it can cause to the na­tive bush.

‘‘It could pos­si­bly be clas­si­fied as the cat of the garden world,’’ she says.

Orig­i­nat­ing from South Amer­ica and of­ten found in garden hedges, the moth plant can climb in ex­cess of five me­tres.

In ur­ban ar­eas, it be­comes the dom­i­nant species and com­petes with or re­places na­tive plant species. Its poi­sonous sap has an ir­ri­tant ef­fect.

It can also harm but­ter­flies when their feed­ing parts be­come gummed up with the vine’s milky sap, lead­ing to star­va­tion and even­tual death. Moths and bees can be trapped in the flow­ers too.

Armed with gloves and se­ca­teurs, the con­cerned res­i­dent of­ten cuts the creep­ing stems off the plants she sees while out walking in the neigh­bour­hood.

‘‘It is such a garden beast.

‘‘It will just take over if we leave it and we want to look af­ter the plants we pay good money for to put into our own gar­dens, but more im­por­tantly, plants.’’




Con­cerned res­i­dent: Cather­ine Perry with some of the moth vines she has re­moved in her neigh­bour­hood.

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