Mites fight Clarence River broom

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Notebook -

A MI­CRO­SCOPIC MITE that fights broom has be­come wide­spread since its re­lease in 2008 says En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury biose­cu­rity ad­vi­sor Steve Palmer.

“They form small colonies which look like warts on the branch. These colonies grow to about one cen­time­tre and then spread out from there. They at­tack small shoots on the plants and even­tu­ally stunt and kill the plants.

“They’ve spread at a rate of 86 me­tres per year but... I’ve seen it up the Wa­iau River and you can find it on lots of road­ways. I’ve even seen them along roads near Ash­bur­ton.”

The mites are par­tic­u­larly use­ful if you are try­ing to de­stroy re­mote blocks of broom which are dif­fi­cult to ac­cess on foot. Steve and his team have used he­li­copters to drop broom branches in­fested with mite colonies into a num­ber of re­mote sites.

“They’re ideal for large blocks of broom which won’t be sprayed and are dif­fi­cult to ac­cess on foot.

“Us­ing mites also re­duces the amount of chem­i­cals be­ing used which is al­ways good for the en­vi­ron­ment – par­tic­u­larly for ar­eas near water­ways.”

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