Black beetle menace challenging farmers
EnvironmentWaikato’s South Waikato and Rotorua regional councillor Norm Barker is wary of black beetle.
And he’s not alone, the beetle is a pest many farmers are having to combat.
As summer approaches, Mr Barker recalled how last year the beetle was a menace to South Waikato farming operations – especially in Tirau and Putaruru.
The black beetle is particularly destructive because each stage of its life cycle requires it to eat grass, destroying root systems.
The beetle lays its eggs in about spring and its larvae begin eating the grass in January.
In the long term it can also mean that when farmers re-grass an area they have lost to black beetle they have to re-grass it at a greater rate.
Mr Barker said part of the difficulty combating black beetle presented in the fact that it was a relatively new pest.
‘‘I’d call it a bit of a new phenomenon and there’s no denying it was a problem in the South Waikato. ‘‘It’s very difficult to deal with.
‘‘This summer I think early advice from specialists and farm consultants about how to prepare for and combat the black beetle is a farmer’s best chance.’’
On a positive note Mr Barker said maize planting had been going very well and he expected that when there was a little bit of rain the plants would ‘‘bounce out of the ground’’.
TROUBLESOME: Black beetles like these are a menace to farmers.