Black beetle men­ace chal­leng­ing farm­ers

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY - By JEREMY SMITH

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’’.

Photo: WAIKATO TIMES

TROU­BLE­SOME: Black bee­tles like these are a men­ace to farm­ers.

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