Bee­tles to fight plant pest wan­der­ing jew

Rodney Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A tiny iri­des­cent bee­tle im­ported from South Amer­ica may be­come north­ern gar­den­ers’ and con­ser­va­tion­ists’ next best friend.

The bee­tle has an ap­petite for trades­cantia leaves – also known as wan­der­ing jew or wan- de­r­ing wil­lie. It’s a hardy, shade-tol­er­ant pest plant, and trades­cantia spreads quickly form­ing thick blan­kets and smoth­er­ing most plants in its path, in­clud­ing na­tive seedlings.

Sev­eral hun­dred adult bee­tles have been re- leased in North­land and Auck­land.

The bee­tles have been bred at Land­care Re­search’s Christchurch fa­cil­ity, the same place as the dung bee­tle from Aus­tralia.

Two other bee­tle species, one which feeds on trades­cantia stems and the other its tips, are also be­ing bred at the same fa­cil­ity.

All three bee­tle species are ex­pected to be set­tled within two years. They are among in­creas­ing num­bers of tiny ecow­ar­riors be­ing con- scripted by the coun­cil to battle a host of pest plants and in­sects.

More than two dozen bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol agents are in use in North­land.

Visit bi­o­log­i­cal­con­trol for more in­for­ma­tion.

Check out www.rod­ney to see Tar­tan Week 2010 on YouTube. Tar­tan time: Waipu cel­e­brates all things tar­tan in July.

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