Winter campaign to raise awareness of brown marmorated stink bug

Biosecurity New Zealand has launched its winter campaign to help raise awareness of a particularly unwanted pest – the brown marmorated stink bug, or BMSB (pictured above).

This bug poses a major threat to New Zealand’s horticulture industry, with the potential to cost the country nearly $4 billion if it established here, says Biosecurity New Zealand’s manager of readiness, Dr Cath Duthie.

“There is always the chance the unwanted pest could arrive in parcels and with other imported items. We very much want the public to help us with our surveillance efforts.”

The BMSB winter campaign focuses on showing people how to correctly identify BMSB and report it. BMSB looks like some other bug species but has elements that make it identifiable, including white stripes or banding on its antennae and abdomen. Continue reading

Biosecurity NZ responds to reports of Indonesia Foot and Mouth outbreak

Biosecurity New Zealand is closely monitoring reports of a Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Indonesia, says its Deputy Director-General, Stuart Anderson.

His agency understands the outbreak is yet to be formally reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and is keeping a close watch on developments.

The risk was low, but “we have notified our primary sector partners”.

New Zealand’s biosecurity system includes risk assessment, visual inspections, X-ray screening, scanning technology, and detector dogs to prevent risk goods from being carried into New Zealand by travellers or arriving by mail.

All shipping containers and imported goods are assessed for biosecurity risk. Continue reading

New pests and diseases reporting tool strengthens our biosecurity system

Biosecurity New Zealand has released a new web tool for people to report suspected exotic pests and diseases online.

Alerts from the public about things that appear out of the ordinary to them, along with reports from primary-sector partners, make up an important part of New Zealand’s strong biosecurity system, says Biosecurity New Zealand’s deputy director-general, Stuart Anderson.

In 2021, phone calls to the ministry’s exotic pests and diseases hotline triggered 1,942 investigations.

Few of those resulted in actual incursions, but every report was valued, Mr Anderson said. Continue reading

Biosecurity NZ’s annual survey shows increase in hive losses

More beekeepers than ever before responded to Biosecurity New Zealand’s seventh annual Winter Colony Loss survey.

This level of involvement and our beekeeper’s transparency in self-reporting shows how seriously they take biosecurity and the value of Biosecurity New Zealand’s support in strengthening the bee industry.

“Strong biosecurity systems and management of pests and diseases are essential to production and the data gathered this year will help beekeepers identify where they need to focus their management efforts,” says Dr Hall.

The Winter Colony Loss survey is conducted by Manaaki Whenua Landcare New Zealand to provide Biosecurity New Zealand with data to ensure support is directed where it’s most useful for the bee industry. Continue reading

Biosecurity Awards finalists protecting every corner of New Zealand

The 2021 Biosecurity Awards finalists named today show the huge effort under way to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The 24 finalists named out of a record number of 90 entries include an iwi partnering with local and central government to eradicate wilding pines from their local taonga, Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera, and a school on Stewart Island/Rakiura whose efforts are keeping Ulva Island pest free.

Biosecurity efforts have even expanded into space, with Xerra Earth Observation Institute’s leading-edge software which is helping protect Aotearoa from pests via international shipping.

Judging panel chairman Dr Ed Massey says the finalists represent a diverse range of individuals, teams, businesses, government agencies, research organisations, iwi, schools, and community groups.

“Judging so many high calibre entries was no easy feat. We saw applications from so many individuals and groups going above and beyond to protect our taonga (precious natural resources) and ensuring New Zealand’s biosecurity is resilient and effective.”

Acting deputy director-general Biosecurity New Zealand Steve Gilbert says the Biosecurity Awards celebrate the outstanding contributions that so many New Zealanders make to safeguard our biosecurity system.

“Now in its fifth year, the awards recognise and celebrate our biosecurity champions. These are people who are stepping up to do something to protect and preserve our environment, primary industries and way of life.

“Their mahi is fundamental in keeping our biosecurity system strong, and in every corner of the country they are putting in the hard yards to ensure we continue to have a world-leading biosecurity system,” he says.

Award winners will be announced at a dinner in Wellington in February 2022. Continue reading

Tomato exports are suspended after Pepino Mosaic Virus (PepMV) is found in Auckland

Tomatoes NZ and The Ministry for Primary Industries are trying to identify a strain of disease discovered on tomato plants.

Pepino Mosaci Virus, which affects the yields of plants and delays growth of the fruit, was found in an Auckland greenhouse in April and has since spread to three other commercial greenhouses in that area.

The virus (PepMV) can cause pepino mosaic disease in tomatoes and some other solanaceous plants, including potatoes and eggplants.

The disease can affect production but has no impact on food safety or human health. Tomatoes are still safe to eat. Continue reading

New app to identify plants at risk from myrtle rust

People keen to support the fight against the fungal disease myrtle rust, which threatens many of New Zealand’s native trees, shrubs and climbers, have a new tool to help identify vulnerable plants in the myrtle family.

Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and Biosecurity New Zealand have partnered in the development of the NZ Myrtaceae Key – a free app that makes it easy for citizen biosecurity volunteers to identify susceptible plants and keep an eye out for the fungal disease myrtle rust.

Myrtle rust has already spread across the top half of the North Island and cases have been recorded as far south as Greymouth.

“We know how much damage plant pests and diseases are causing overseas, and science partnerships, like this, will help us stay ahead,” says Veronica Herrera, diagnostics and surveillance services director for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Continue reading

Blackgrass is identified in Canterbury

Biosecurity New Zealand early this month was notified of the detection of three black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) seeds in a 100g sample of ryegrass seed grown in the Ashburton area.

The sample had been submitted for purity and germination testing as part of routine pre-export certification. Samples for analysis of the remainder of the harvest (approximately 14 tonnes) also detected further black-grass seed contamination.

Biosecurity New Zealand consider this find linked to the 2016 Blackgrass response, because the seed in question came from one of the sites under surveillance as part of that response.

Surveillance at that time (2016/17) did not detect any Blackgrass. It is not linked to the 2013 spillage of Blackgrass along the Ashburton-Methven Highway.

Biosecurity New Zealand actions to date:

  • Tracing back to determine the origin of the Blackgrass contamination and if any risk material has moved off farm.
  • Contacted the seed company and confirmed all the affected ryegrass is securely held at the facility;
  • Contacted the property where the seed dressing waste (offal) was delivered, to ensure it is securely held on the property; and
  • Visited the affected property with AsureQuality, where the detection was discussed and it was confirmed that best practice is being followed.
  • Placing a Notice of Direction on the seed and seed offal to ensure unauthorised movement does not occur;
  • Directing seed offal to be destroyed securely by deep burial at the Kate Valley landfill;
  • Working with MPI’s Plant Exports Group to discuss possible conditions of export for the affected seed (to a country which already has black-grass).

The Foundation for Arable Research is advising farmers and growers to keep a lookout for blackgrass.   If it is found or found or suspected, the seed head should not be disturbed.  Instead, a photo should be taken and  the Pest and Disease Hotline called on 0800 80 99 66 to report the suspected find.

Source:  Foundation for Arable Research

Strict import checks reduce biosecurity threat from brown marmorated stink bug

Strict biosecurity requirements for imported cargo have reduced the threat of brown marmorated stink bug and even tougher rules will be introduced next season.

There were 57 interceptions of live brown marmorated stink bug during the 2019/20 season (September to April) – a reduction of 73% from the previous season. Of these, 28 were detected at the border. The others were largely individual hitchhikers detected after the border with personal effects carried by arriving international passengers.

“The reduction shows the success of introducing off-shore treatment requirements to ensure high risk goods arrive clean from countries with established populations of this destructive pest,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.

The import rules targeted vehicles, machinery and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season. Continue reading

Biosecurity Minister announces world- first eradication of pea weevil

A Government programme to wipe out pea weevil has achieved a world first, with Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor today announcing the successful eradication of the noxious pest from Wairarapa.

This has resulted in the nearly-four-year ban on pea plants and pea straw being lifted today.  Commercial and home gardeners can again grow pea plants and use pea straw as garden bedding material.

Mr O’Connor said there have been no new finds of pea weeviles for two seasons.  Biosecurity New Zealand therefore is confident no pea weevils remain in Wairarapa or New Zealand.
Continue reading