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May, 2023

Forest Owners hail ‘Biosecurity Hero’

The Forest Owners Association and Scion want more people to report suspicious imported wood products which might be infested with introduced wood and forest pests.

 FOA Biosecurity Manager, Brendan Gould, says Northlander Michelle Reichardt is a biosecurity hero for alerting Biosecurity New Zealand to some holes and sawdust in an imported wooden serving tray she had just bought from Kmart.

MPI identified the insect responsible as the African powder post beetle, which it says is a foreign import.

Kmart has withdrawn the remaining trays from its shelves, and they will be inspected for borer activity.

Brendan Gould says this is not the first time the African powder post beetle has been found in New Zealand inhabiting recently imported wood products.

“We have a world class biosecurity system, but even with the current measures insect pests can still get through and harm our environment, our production and our communities.  We need the help of alert members of the public, such as Michelle Reichardt, to dob in these unwanted insects to the biosecurity authorities.”

Brendan Gould says the African powder post beetle is probably not a threat to plantation pines and other softwood trees, but the beetle will eat untreated timber.

“Given the important role that trees and wood play in reducing our climate impacts through sequestering carbon it’s crucial we protect them from all pests and diseases.”

Stephanie Sopow, an entomologist with the Crown Research Institute Scion, says powder post beetles damage the sapwood of seasoned wood and wood products, almost always hardwood, including oak, eucalyptus, and bamboo.

“Some of our native hardwoods are likely to be susceptible, given the related Lyctus brunneus is present in New Zealand and favours tawa and rewarewa, if these wood products are untreated.”

“Given the biosecurity threat posed by these wood borer pest intruders, Scion urges people to report any observed symptoms quickly, including holes roughly 1.5mm in diameter, fine talcum powder-like boring dust, and possibly sounds made by the insects while they are chewing.”

“If you see any unusual insects or disease symptoms on or from imported goods, report these to Biosecurity New Zealand’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline.”

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