Exotic insects found in NZ are not known in their home countries

The discovery and description of two new insects suggests  New Zealand may be home to more exotic insects than those we know about.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre have described and named two new exotic insects present in New Zealand that weren’t previously known about – not even in their native countries.

A paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, written by former Bio-Protection Research Centre PhD student Francesco Martoni and BPRC senior research scientist Dr Karen Armstrong, describes two psyllids (also called jumping plant lice), Acizzia errabunda and Ctenarytaina insularis.

These extremely small insects, no more than 3 mm long, are not easy to detect. Continue reading

Fruit fly detections in Auckland – Science Media Centre provides expert Q&A

The Science Media Centre has released a press statement dealing with the two different species of exotic fruit flies found in Auckland in the past week.  Both pose a risk to New Zealand’s horticulture industry and the threat is unlikely to disappear.

News of the second discovery, a species native to Tonga that was found in Ōtara, broke yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, biosecurity restrictions remain in place in Devonport after a Queensland fruit fly was discovered last week.

RNZ reported that the Ministry for Primary Industries has ordered an independent review of its biosecurity systems.

The Science Media Centre prepared an item of questions and answers with biosecurity experts: Continue reading

Lincoln research is aimed at determining the origin of insect pests

Researchers in the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University are developing a new way to reveal the birthplace of unwanted insect pests, information that is vital for managing pest incursions.

Despite stringent biosecurity measures, unwanted insects occasionally arrive in New Zealand from overseas in shipping containers and imported goods. If these pests breed and spread, they could have a huge impact on agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment.

Pinpointing the birthplace of an exotic insect pest is crucial for determining whether it is an isolated ‘hitchhiker’ or part of an established breeding population. This knowledge is helpful for biosecurity agencies, such as the Ministry for Primary Industries, to decide the best approach for dealing with an incursion.

Continue reading