Blackbutt leafminer spreads
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Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.
From Forest Health News No. 104, February 2001.
Yet another introduced eucalypt pest has been the cause of recent concern, the issue this time being a small moth known as the blackbutt leafminer (Acrocercops laciniella). This insect has been known in this country since January, 1999, and undoubtedly reached New Zealand from eastern Australia. It is a significant pest in coastal New South Wales, where it causes outbreaks of damage from time to time on blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis). According to the literature, A. laciniella has a wide host range, which also extends to species within the eucalypt sub-genus Symphyomyrtus. This group includes many of our valued plantation species such as E. nitens, E. fastigata, and E. globulus. Until now, A. laciniella has remained confined to the area within Auckland where it was first found, and appears to have had little impact on the small planting of E. pilularis it infested in Remuera. Although the foliage of these trees was well populated by the insect, with numbers of leaf mines steadily increasing throughout the summer months as the young foliage was invaded by feeding larvae, the affected trees were not defoliated, and their growth remained vigorous. However, early last month, exactly two years from the date of its first record, A. laciniella was found to have rapidly widened its distribution. Larvae were found inside leaf mines on eucalypts on a golf course at Mount Maunganui, in the Bay of Plenty. In addition, and perhaps of even greater concern, they were also discovered in foliage in a small plantation of E. nitens near Ngaruawahia in the Waikato. Anyone finding suspicious leaf blisters on Eucalyptus leaves are requested to send a sealed and marked sample to Forest Health, Forest Research, for checking.
Toni Withers, Forest Research
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