Beetles to fight plant pest wandering jew
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 www.nrc.govt.nz/ biologicalcontrol for more information.
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