Asian Gypsy Moth – keeping out the invader from Asia
Asian Gypsy Moth ( Lymantria dispar asiatica and L. d. japonica – AGM) is a high-risk hitchhiker pest that’s threatened New Zealand’s borders for many years.
Similar to other Lepidoptera pests, the characteristics of AGM’s lifecycle make it a successful invader. Like other hitchhikers its eggs are laid on any sheltered structures such as used cars, WHAT CROPS DOES IT ATTACK? shipping containers and vessels, in clusters of 200-1200 eggs AGM is considered a serious threat to NZ forestry and the size of pinheads. horticulture, with larvae known to feed on over 500
species of trees, shrubs and horticulture plants. In addition When eggs hatch a ‘ballooning’ of newly hatched larvae may
to forestry trees, other commercial plant commodities be observed, being carried on the wind on silken threads
include apple, apricot, blueberries, cherry, chestnut, hazelnut, up to distances of 50 metres or more. Larval stages vary in
kiwifruit, lychee, plum, rose and walnut. colour, with newly hatched larvae black and older larvae with five pairs of raised blue spots and six pairs of raised brick-red DISTRIBUTION AND SPREAD spots along their backs. Adult male moths are grey-brown with AGM is indigenous to China and Russia and has become a wingspan of three or four centimetres, while females are established in Korea, Japan and Germany. Its spread has been nearly all white with wavy black bands across the wing and a facilitated through movement of inanimate objects following wingspan of about 9cm. shipping routes worldwide, with establishment in parts of
Europe, North Africa and throughout states and districts WHY IS IT A PROBLEM? in North America where eradication efforts continue to AGM is considered a significant pest to both forestry and prevent permanent establishment. horticulture with an ability to spread quickly once it arrives due to appropriate climatic conditions in NZ. AGM eggs have Should it enter NZ AGM would likely establish without a been frequently found during border inspections of used concentrated eradication effort, due to dispersal capability vehicles, as far back as the 1990s. and an appropriate climate. AGM males are long range flyers
covering up to 100km a day and females 20km, while early It’s the larval (caterpillar) stage that causes damage, with feeding life stages are able to travel on the wind. causing direct damage to foliage, in addition to weakening of plants making them susceptible to disease or other pests. In RISK TO NZ recognition of AGM’s potential impact, the Ministry for Primary AGM is a proven invader and one of the most feared pests Industries (MPI) and its predecessors have been operating an by temperate countries such as NZ. AGM is regularly ongoing targeted surveillance programme since 1992. intercepted at the NZ border on inanimate objects such
as shipping containers, used cars and container ships. An This programme uses a network of over 1500 pheromone
incursion, or any change to NZ’s pest status for AGM traps placed across the country to cover likely points of entry.
freedom, could result in significant market access restrictions There has only been one post-border detection of AGM in NZ
to horticulture export sectors. in Hamilton in 2003.This find resulted in a large-scale response with intensive pheromone trapping and aerial spraying. It WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE IT wasn’t until two years later that the pest was finally declared If you think you’ve seen Asian Gypsy Moth, call the MPI pest eradicated. and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.