A stink over Welling­ton wine coun­try

HortNZ re­cently joined New Zealand Wine­grow­ers in a brown mar­morated stink bug (BMSB) re­sponse sim­u­la­tion.

The Orchardist - - Biosecurity -

Rais­ing aware­ness of the sig­nif­i­cant risk BMSB is to hor­ti­cul­ture in New Zealand is a re­spon­si­bil­ity shared be­tween the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) and in­dus­try groups who are part of the Gov­ern­ment In­dus­try Agree­ment (GIA) part­ner­ship. Un­der the GIA New Zealand Wine­grow­ers and HortNZ par­tic­i­pate in readi­ness and re­sponse ac­tiv­i­ties to pre­pare for the po­ten­tial ar­rival of BMSB, which in­cludes en­hanc­ing aware­ness of mem­bers. An ef­fec­tive way of do­ing this is to take stake­hold­ers through a re­sponse sim­u­la­tion to show what would hap­pen if BMSB were found in NZ.

At NZ Wine­grower’s an­nual con­fer­ence (Romeo Bra­gato) in late Au­gust HortNZ’s biose­cu­rity and trade pol­icy man­ager, Leanne Stew­art, par­tic­i­pated in a BMSB re­sponse sim­u­la­tion de­signed by NZ Wine­grower’s biose­cu­rity and emer­gency re­sponse man­ager, Ed Massey. In the sim­u­lated gov­er­nance meet­ing, where rep­re­sen­ta­tives of GIA part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions share de­ci­sion-mak­ing, the con­fer­ence au­di­ence was taken through the process that would oc­cur dur­ing the early stages of a BMSB re­sponse.

Ed and Leanne were joined by MPI re­sponse man­ager Nicky Fitzgib­bon (who acted as in­ci­dent con­troller) and biose­cu­rity re­sponse team man­ager John Brightwell (act­ing as the MPI gov­er­nance rep­re­sen­ta­tive). Nicky led the gov­er­nance group through a fic­tional BMSB out­break on a vine­yard in the Welling­ton re­gion and pre­sented re­sponse ac­tiv­i­ties for ap­proval. For the pur­poses of the sim­u­la­tion the re­sponse had just been stood up and these were some of the first de­ci­sions to be made by the gov­er­nance group.

The meet­ing started with the con­troller pre­sent­ing a sit­u­a­tional re­port out­lin­ing what had hap­pened so far and re­quest­ing ap­proval for an ac­tion plan to be­gin erad­i­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. The con­troller took the group through the risks as­so­ci­ated with im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan, in­clud­ing chem­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions, the lo­cal com­mu­nity (an or­ganic vine­yard and a school) and in­volve­ment of grow­ers in erad­i­ca­tion ef­forts.

As would hap­pen in re­al­ity, NZ Wine­grower’s and HortNZ ex­plored the risks and op­por­tu­ni­ties of MPI’s pro­posed plan be­fore ap­prov­ing the way for­ward. By work­ing to­gether un­der GIA MPI and in­dus­try are able to make de­ci­sions to­gether in the best in­ter­ests of their mem­bers.

In re­al­ity ev­ery­one needs to play a part.

If BMSB were to be found in NZ a re­sponse would very quickly be stood up by GIA part­ners – it would be all hands on deck! As de­scribed HortNZ would par­tic­i­pate in the BMSB gov­er­nance group and also in oper­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Biose­cu­rity Ca­pa­bil­ity Net­work.

BMSB is not cur­rently in NZ and HortNZ wants to keep it that way. It en­cour­ages ev­ery­one to keep a watch for BMSB, on plants and trees, on the out­side of houses, ba­si­cally any­where out­doors. If BMSB was to es­tab­lish here it would have a ma­jor im­pact on the NZ hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try and the en­vi­ron­ment, as well as be­com­ing a nui­sance and in­vad­ing homes. It is ex­tremely hard to con­trol and erad­i­cate.

BMSB is best iden­ti­fied by size, sim­i­lar to a 10 cent coin, with white band­ing on the an­ten­nae, and al­ter­nate black and white mark­ings on the ab­domen. If you see a BMSB catch it, pho­to­graph it, and call the MPI Pest and Dis­ease Hot­line on 0800 80 99 66.

Learn­ing from other coun­tries’ ex­pe­ri­ences when it comes to biose­cu­rity can bet­ter pre­pare this coun­try’s grow­ers, Nuffield Scholar, Si­mon Cook, be­lieves. He’s re­cently been trav­el­ling in the United States look­ing at a range of in­sect pest in­cur­sions and how they’ve been han­dled.

He’s a third gen­er­a­tion ki­wifruit grower from Te Puke, with he and wife Katey grow­ing green and gold ki­wifruit

and have re­cently planted their first avo­cado trees. He’s also owner and man­ager of Ran­furly Or­chard Ser­vices, a re­cent supreme win­ner at the Te Puke Busi­ness Awards.

His first stop on his US visit was near Auburn in Alabama where a large ki­wifruit or­chard of 100 hectares is be­ing de­vel­oped as a trial to see if ki­wifruit can suc­cess­fully be grown in that area.

“The per­son run­ning the site, Clint Wall, will be known to many as he spent time work­ing for Seeka in a tech­ni­cal role based in Te Puke be­fore spend­ing some time work­ing for them up the Coro­man­del Penin­sula,” he said.

One of Clint’s ma­jor chal­lenges is deal­ing with Brown Mar­morated Stink Bug (BMSB) and he’s been us­ing a num­ber of the tech­niques dis­cussed lo­cally as pos­si­ble man­age­ment plans if there is an in­cur­sion.

One was the use of bait plants to lure BMSB out of the ki­wifruit so more toxic sprays could be used but that would cause residue prob­lems. And un­for­tu­nately Clint’s ex­pe­ri­ence is that this is not suc­cess­ful as the bugs pre­fer to stay in the ki­wifruit.

“His next plan was the use of chem­i­cal im­preg­nated cloth with bright lights shin­ing on it at night to try and at­tract BMSB,” he said.

“This was be­ing tri­alled with lim­ited suc­cess else­where, how­ever there is sig­nif­i­cant risk of off-tar­get deaths. Un­for­tu­nately des­per­a­tion can lead to less than ideal meth­ods. So far the most suc­cess­ful method has been the use of baited traps that are reg­u­larly cap­tur­ing hun­dreds of bugs.”

In Alabama, Tris­sol­cus japon­i­cas, the Samu­rai Wasp is not present.

“When I got to Penn­syl­va­nia later in my trip I found the pop­u­la­tions of BMSB that ini­tially had ex­ploded in that area were now heav­ily re­duced and BMSB was not con­sid­ered as sig­nif­i­cant as it had been,” he said.

“A large fac­tor in the re­duc­tion of the pop­u­la­tion was be­ing cred­ited to the pres­ence of the Samu­rai Wasp.

“In China BMSB is not a ma­jor prob­lem be­cause the Samu­rai wasp has de­vel­oped as a nat­u­ral con­trol to keep its num­bers in check.When BMSB is moved to a new en­vi­ron­ment with no nat­u­ral preda­tor or nat­u­ral con­trol, then there is noth­ing to stop its num­bers ex­pand­ing to plague pro­por­tions. This is the real risk with biose­cu­rity in­cur­sions where you can get the pest with­out its cor­re­spond­ing bio­con­trol and a pest which at home can seem rather be­nign sud­denly can ex­plode in num­bers and cause ma­jor prob­lems to in­dus­try. “This can also cause prob­lems iden­ti­fy­ing what our real threats are in terms of in­va­sive species as in their home coun­tries that quite of­ten are not an is­sue. In China Yel­low Spot­ted Stink Bug (YSSB) has more of an im­pact on agri­cul­ture than BMSB.”

Next he vis­ited Florida where Cit­rus Green­ing dis­ease, or Huan­g­long­bing (HLB) which lit­er­ally trans­lates to yel­low dragon dis­ease in China, ap­peared.

“Be­fore HLB, Florida suf­fered an in­cur­sion of cit­rus canker,” he said.

“One of the ini­tial re­sponses to con­trol canker was a cut out pro­gramme that re­sulted in tak­ing out a cir­cle of 1900 feet around any in­fected plant. Un­for­tu­nately despite cut­ting out a large area of or­chard, a hur­ri­cane swept through Florida that year spread­ing the wind and rain-borne dis­ease every­where. The com­plete fail­ure of the cutout pro­gramme com­pletely un­der­mined the no­tion of ever us­ing this tech­nique to con­trol fu­ture in­cur­sions.

“The first sign of a com­ing prob­lem with HLB was the ar­rival of the Asian cit­rus psyl­lid, a well known vec­tor for the trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease. For four years they bat­tled the psyl­lid in­cur­sion with­out suc­cess keep­ing a close eye out for the first sign of HLB. The psyl­lid it­self does very lit­tle dam­age, and grow­ers started to be­come com­pla­cent to­wards the man­age­ment of the psyl­lid, which is very dif­fi­cult to con­trol.

“This all changed with the first pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of HLB in an or­chard in Florida. In­ter­est­ingly talk­ing with a grape­fruit grower, this still did not con­cern them as they mis­tak­enly be­lieved it would not af­fect them. The in­dus­try in­stead has been dev­as­tated with to­tal pro­duc­tion drop­ping from 140

“This is the real risk with biose­cu­rity in­cur­sions where you can get the pest with­out its cor­re­spond­ing bio­con­trol and a pest which at home can seem rather be­nign sud­denly can ex­plode in num­bers and cause ma­jor prob­lems to in­dus­try.”

mil­lion boxes to cur­rently only 6m boxes. The num­ber of post-har­vest fa­cil­i­ties has sim­i­larly dropped from in the 1980s to now less than 10. This rep­re­sents a cat­a­strophic re­duc­tion in in­come and jobs within the lo­cal com­mu­nity. The over­all cit­rus in­dus­try has dropped from 9 bil­lion to 4.5b.

“Since the in­cur­sion around US$250m has been in­vested in re­search to try and over­come the in­cur­sion with lit­tle suc­cess. Whilst wait­ing for some so­lu­tion grow­ers find them­selves very much in sur­vival mode un­sure of their fu­ture. Many grow­ers have been forced to aban­don or­chards or cut them out and look at try­ing to grow some other crop in­stead of cit­rus. I saw a num­ber of or­chards that once pro­duced cit­rus now grow­ing blue­ber­ries, wa­ter­melon, onions, ba­si­cally try­ing any­thing they can think of to sur­vive.

“The most likely so­lu­tion to al­low the in­dus­try to sur­vive will be the breed­ing of new tol­er­ant va­ri­eties, most likely cre­ated us­ing some kind of ge­netic mod­i­fi­ca­tion. With­out the use of ge­netic mod­i­fi­ca­tion it’s un­likely a new tol­er­ant va­ri­ety will be bred any­time soon. Nat­u­ral se­lec­tion breed­ing typ­i­cally takes around 20 years to de­liver new so­lu­tions – I’m not sure the in­dus­try can wait that long.

“Whilst I un­der­stand why New Zealand farm­ers and grow­ers have been fight­ing to be GM-free with all the pres­sure be­ing ex­erted in our ma­jor Euro­pean mar­kets, I can’t help think­ing this de­ci­sion may be short sighted and po­ten­tially ex­pose them to greater risk at some time in the fu­ture. If biose­cu­rity is the num­ber one risk fac­ing the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try in NZ is ge­netic mod­i­fi­ca­tion in all its forms, po­ten­tially our num­ber one so­lu­tion?

“This also brings me to Kauri dieback. If we are un­able to con­trol the spread of the Phy­toph­thora caus­ing this dis­ease then will we be left with the op­tions of los­ing Kauri all to­gether, or us­ing GM tech­nol­ogy to mod­ify the ex­ist­ing genes within Kauri’s DNA to en­able it to de­velop re­sis­tance. Are we bet­ter to have a GM Kauri than no Kauri at all?”

He then made his way north to West Vir­ginia to meet Dr Tracy Leskey of the United States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA), who heads the Ap­palachian Fruit Re­search Sta­tion in Kear­neysville. She vis­ited NZ with the sup­port of KVH in Au­gust last year and he wanted to catch up on their lat­est re­search into the con­trol of BMSB, and in par­tic­u­lar the work they were do­ing with the Samu­rai Wasp.

“BMSB is thought to have first been seen in the US in 1995-96 how­ever it was not for­mally iden­ti­fied un­til 2001 in Al­len­town Penn­syl­va­nia,” he said.

“When it ar­rived there were 25 other Pen­tato­mi­dae or shield/stink bugs species al­ready na­tive to the US. One more was not con­sid­ered to be a prob­lem and it was as­sumed the nat­u­ral con­trols al­ready reg­u­lat­ing the other Pen­tato­mi­dae species would also pred­i­tate BMSB and keep its num­bers un­der con­trol.

“The first in­di­ca­tions all was not well came in 2008-2009 from ap­ple grow­ers who started to no­tice caulk­ing in their fruit. At first it was thought to be cal­cium de­fi­ciency, how­ever in 2010, they re­alised it was caused by BMSB feed­ing. By then the im­pact was so se­vere grow­ers were say­ing they would be out of busi­ness in two to three years. The only re­sponse at their dis­posal was to in­crease the num­ber of hard chem­i­cal sprays they were ap­ply­ing. The av­er­age grower went from us­ing in­sec­ti­cides four to five times a year in 2010 to 10-15 in 2011. This had the un­in­tended con­se­quence of knock­ing out sev­eral ben­e­fi­cial in­sects that in turn cre­ated fur­ther prob­lems.

“Once re­searchers in the US were aware of the threat that BMSB posed, they be­gan look­ing at po­ten­tial con­trol mea­sures with the most ob­vi­ous one be­ing the Samu­rai Wasp. The US had be­gun the process of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the im­port and re­lease of the wasp when it was dis­cov­ered al­ready in the coun­try in small num­bers. Since then the fo­cus has been on breed­ing and re­leas­ing greater num­bers of Samu­rai Wasp to bring the BMSB pop­u­la­tion un­der con­trol, which it does now seem to be.

“It was in­ter­est­ing that when I vis­ited grow­ers in this area, BMSB was no longer con­sid­ered a ma­jor threat. Dam­age in or­chards whilst still present, has dropped from up to 90 per­cent fruit-loss to less than five per­cent. This was fan­tas­tic news as it cer­tainly in­di­cated that some level of con­trol was be­ing achieved that we could learn from.

“No one would guar­an­tee the Samu­rai Wasp is the cause for the de­crease in BMSB num­bers, how­ever it is strongly sus­pected but there may also be other fac­tors not fully un­der­stood yet.

“In its home, China, BMSB is not a ma­jor pest to agri­cul­ture, in fact the yel­low spot­ted stink bug is con­sid­ered a greater pest. A nat­u­ral preda­tor keeps BMSB num­bers in check as

na­ture seeks to main­tain a bal­ance. When you take BMSB out of China with­out its nat­u­ral preda­tor to keep it un­der con­trol, then its num­bers can ex­plode to plague pro­por­tion caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant dam­age as we saw in the US in 2010-2015.”

On his fi­nal day in this area he was looked af­ter by Mark Sut­phin, an ex­ten­sion agent with Vir­ginia Tech who took him to the town of Winch­ester to have a look at the Spot­ted Lantern­fly (SLF), Ly­corma del­i­cat­ula in­cur­sion there.

“It was first no­ticed in Penn­syl­va­nia in around 2015. The ini­tial in­cur­sion is thought to be from egg masses that had been laid on paving stones in China and then im­ported to the US. From the ini­tial site they for­ward traced any move­ments of stone to is a paving stone de­pot in Winch­ester Vir­ginia. For two years they con­tin­ued to mon­i­tor the site with no sign un­til the first SLF were ob­served two years later. There is no known pheromone or ag­gre­ga­tion traps for SLF so the only method of find­ing them is vis­ual ob­ser­va­tion and sticky tape at­tached to trees.

“One of the keys to find­ing SLF is the pres­ence of Ai­lan­thus al­tissima or the Tree of Heaven as it is com­monly known. Ai­lan­thus was im­ported from China as a dec­o­ra­tive tree but has now spread widely through­out the US and is con­sid­ered a pest plant. SLF seem to fo­cus heav­ily on pop­u­lat­ing Ai­lan­thus as ma­ture adults around the time they breed. It is not known if the plant plays an im­por­tant role in this process or is just a pref­er­ence at this stage. Dur­ing pre­vi­ous life­cy­cle stages as a crawler

SLF has been ob­served feed­ing on over 70 dif­fer­ent plant species, the only plant it has so far not shown an in­ter­est in feed­ing on is conifers. This is where part of the dan­ger in this pest lies, its abil­ity to hap­pily feed on a wide range of host plants.

“To be hon­est I wasn’t over­whelmed by what I was look­ing at, rather I viewed this in­cur­sion that for two years had not moved more than a mile, as be­ing rel­a­tively easy to erad­i­cate. It wasn’t un­til I spent time in Penn­syl­va­nia where the in­cur­sion is far greater that I re­ally got a feel for the threat this in­sect could pose. Lantern­fly is not dif­fi­cult to kill and if you had sec­tioned of all the af­fected prop­er­ties and rail­road area in Winch­ester, sprayed it with some­thing rea­son­ably toxic, then I be­lieve it would be rel­a­tively easy to erad­i­cate.

“This high­lights one of the cru­cial ad­van­tages we have in deal­ing with an in­cur­sion, the pow­ers the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) are given un­der the Biose­cu­rity Act 1993. I didn’t re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of this leg­is­la­tion and how vi­tal it is to our suc­cess in deal­ing with in­cur­sions un­til I spent time in the US.

“In the US the Fed­eral Au­thor­i­ties have al­most no pow­ers and the State only has a lit­tle more. Ba­si­cally the in­di­vid­ual home­owner has all the rights. The Fed­eral and State Au­thor­i­ties can ask the home­own­ers per­mis­sion to carry out ac­tiv­i­ties on their prop­erty but have no way of forc­ing the home­owner to com­ply. So in the mid­dle of an in­cur­sion you can have a home­owner refuse to co­op­er­ate and thereby cre­at­ing a reser­voir to re-in­fect treated neigh­bours, mak­ing erad­i­ca­tion all but im­pos­si­ble.

“SLF on its own can­not travel far. Dur­ing its in­star or crawler phases of which there are four, it looks to climb the near­est tree or ob­ject. It will tend to fall of a struc­ture and then look to climb back up. In its adult form it can fly but is more of a hop­per and will only fly very short dis­tances and on its own won’t travel far. The real risk is that whilst it prefers to lay its eggs on trees when num­bers in­crease it will lay its eggs any­where. Egg masses have been seen on stone, tim­ber

pal­ings, rusty me­tal – ba­si­cally any­where, and this is where the real risk of SLF be­ing spread comes.

“I came away with the feel­ing that if you could iden­tify an in­cur­sion early enough, and were pre­pared to go hard at it, then there was ev­ery chance you could suc­cess­fully erad­i­cate a SLF in­cur­sion in NZ.The real risk is not find­ing it in time be­cause once es­tab­lished, the wide host range could mean SLF is un­stop­pable. At this stage there is still no known nat­u­ral preda­tor and the pri­mary con­trol be­ing used is in­ject­ing a sys­temic neon­i­coti­noid Dinote­furon into Ai­lan­thus trees killing SLF af­ter they feed.

“When SLF feed as an in­star or adult they suck phloem sap from trunks stems and leaf peti­oles. SLF feed­ing in large num­bers can be se­vere enough to cause shoot dieback and, in some cases, plant death. One grape grower had re­ported the plants that had seen heavy feed­ing in spring had not been able to sur­vive win­ter dor­mancy. Ob­vi­ously, this has the po­ten­tial to be cat­a­strophic for the wine in­dus­try. Heavy feed­ing on hops has also been seen with buds be­ing tainted by the feed­ing leav­ing them un­able to be used for pro­duc­tion of beer.

“Whilst it is feed­ing the SLF also pro­duces large vol­umes of honey dew that can re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant lev­els of sooty mould. To give you an idea, think of a se­vere pas­sion vine hop­per in­fec­tion and what that leads to in terms of sooty mould – then imag­ine the PVH are the size of ci­cadas. I have seen or­chards suf­fer 20-30 per­cent fruit loss be­cause of PVH, I can see this re­sult­ing in fruit loss of 80-90 per­cent with SLF.

“It wasn’t un­til I headed back up to Penn­syl­va­nia and headed to the city of Read­ing which is at the cen­tre of the SLF in­cur­sion there that I re­ally started to get an un­der­stand­ing of the threat this in­sect poses. It has now spread across 60 coun­ties in Penn­syl­va­nia and cov­ers an area of 6,000 square miles. While I was in the US the first sight­ings in New Jersey were an­nounced mean­ing it had now spread to three states. In South Korea within three years of first be­ing iden­ti­fied it had spread through­out the coun­try.

“I vis­ited The Pagoda in Read­ing which sits on top of a hill and has one of the worst in­fec­tions in the sur­round­ing park. All around and over the Pagoda were sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of SLF. As I was walk­ing back down a hill I no­ticed from a dis­tance the grass around one of the trees was shiny from honey dew. As I got closer I could also see the base of the tree was black from sooty mould. Stand­ing un­der the tree it felt like there was a soft driz­zle and look­ing up you could ac­tu­ally see the honey dew be­ing se­creted, such was the vol­ume. “Not only will this pose ma­jor prob­lems in terms of sooty mould, but the large vol­ume will po­ten­tially pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant food source for wasps.

“I left that area and headed 10km away. I had to stop for gas and as I was stand­ing there fill­ing up the car I no­ticed sev­eral SLF just hang­ing out on the petrol pump. It was then I started to un­der­stand the dif­fi­culty faced con­trol­ling this pest once it started to spread.

“A few days later I at­tended a meet­ing on SLF run by Penn­syl­va­nia Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­tural Rus­sell Red­ding and Penn State Uni­ver­si­ties Dean Rick Roush. Both orig­i­nally trained and worked as en­to­mol­o­gists and in Penn­syl­va­nia both have dealt with the in­cur­sions of BMSB, Fruit Fly, Spot­ted Wing Drosophila and now SLF. These four are all in KVH’s most un­wanted list and all fea­ture promi­nently. Roush made the com­ment dur­ing the meet­ing that he felt SLF was the most dam­ag­ing and great­est threat to agri­cul­ture of all the in­va­sive pests he’s seen. This was a pretty sober­ing com­ment and re­in­forced the threat this in­sect poses.”

Next Si­mon will look at Ba­nana Panama dis­ease in Queens­land, Fruit Fly in the South of Aus­tralia and the BMSB in­cur­sion in San­ti­ago, Chile.

“It’s thought that the most likely spot for an in­cur­sion to oc­cur in NZ is in an ur­ban area, so what is hap­pen­ing in Chile is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est.”

From left to right: Nicky Fitzgib­bon and John Brightwell, MPI, Leanne Stew­art, HortNZ, and Ed Massey, NZ Wine­grow­ers.

Striped an­ten­naeStriped bands on ab­domen

From top:Mul­ti­ple fourth in­star spot­ted lantern­flycon­gre­gat­ing in num­bers on a shoot.Two stages of lantern­fly with the sin­gle one anadult fe­male spot­ted lantern­fly.

From left:Clint Wall, who worked for Seeka in New Zealand as a ki­wifruit tech­ni­cal rep be­fore mov­ing home to Auburn Alabama where he has setup a 100 hectare trial ki­wifruit or­chard in part­ner­ship with Cal­i­for­nian com­pany Sun Pa­cific.The black­ness cre­ated by sooty mould and shin­ing on the grass leaf is honey dew se­cre­tion from lantern­fly. A wasp can be seen feed­ing on the honey dew which is a food source and could re­sult in in­creased num­bers.

The Pagoda in Read­ing where lat­er­n­fly is every­where.

Ben Hayes of Hayes Farms, Cul­man County, Alabama.

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