Beetle making comeback
Waikato farmers already stressed with a low milk payout and shrinking moisture levels could also be facing a major problem with pasture pests later this summer.
The mild winter weather had ensured a high survival rate of black beetles, and the adults will begin laying their eggs now.
It is their larvae that eat the roots of pasture plants, causing widespread damage.
AgResearch scientist Alison Popay said there will be plenty of black beetles around this summer – unless there was a major spell of rain next month that would kill their larvae.
‘‘ That would be much more critical because the larvae don’t like it when it’s overly wet.’’
A lift in beetle numbers was expected, coming off the back of consecutive droughts.
If farmers had an issue with black beetle last year, it was highly likely it would be an issue again this season, she said.
But she was yet to be convinced it was a regionwide problem.
‘‘I think there will be at least a continuation of what we had last year, where we did have quite a lot of damaging populations.’’
The jump in pasture pests could also be attributed to the droughts.
Drought conditions stressed the plants and caused them to be much more vulnerable to damage.
Popay suggested that farmers consider planting a crop in affected paddocks to ensure they had extra feed on hand for their stock.
THE CULPRIT: The larvae of a black beetle.