Bee­tle mak­ing come­back

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

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.

Fair­fax

THE CUL­PRIT: The lar­vae of a black bee­tle.

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