Battling bugs declare war on privet

Biocontrol insects chomp down on invasive weed

Publish Date : 20 Feb 2017
Battling bugs declare war on privet
Kaipātiki Local Board members and volunteers releasing privet lace bugs.

Chinese privet is the bane of many lives. It exacerbates asthma symptoms while causing runny noses and itchy eyes, its leaves and fruit are poisonous and it displaces native plants.

Bugs vs weeds

To help fight this weed, Auckland Council recently released Chinese privet lace bugs in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park, and this year set them free at Birkenhead War Memorial Reserve.

The use of the lace bug is an example of biological control – using a pest’s natural enemy against it. The bugs were first imported to New Zealand for study in 2013, and have since been approved for release by the Environmental Protection Authority.

“Chinese privet is a real problem in Kaipātiki and across the Auckland region,” says Kaipātiki Local Board Chair Danielle Grant.

“The bug is not a one-stop eradication tool, but it will help weaken the weed and reduce its abundance, which will make it easier for our native species to compete and thrive."

Pest-free Kaipātiki

“The release of this bug, along with the shiny leaf beetle last year to combat tradescantia weed, are helpful tools in our efforts to create a pest-free Kaipātiki.”

To find out about pest-free initiatives in your area, contact the Kaipātiki Project Environment Centre on 09 482 1172.

Visit Auckland Council's Plant Search page for more information on eradicating Chinese privet and other weeds.

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