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Uraba lugens in New Zealand 1998

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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 72, March 1998.

A survey for caterpillars of Uraba lugens, the gumleaf skeletoniser, was initiated on 2 March 1998. Some 200 eucalypts on two Mt Maunganui golf courses and environs were examined by two Forest Health Advisers, with assistance from Fletcher Challenge Forests health-trained people. This inspection repeated the process developed last year. March is the preferable month as the caterpillars are reaching maturity and, at about 25 mm in length, are much easier to detect. Similarly, the distinctive damage caused by the voracious insect's eating habit can also provide the searchers with clues as to where the insect may be.

Since its detection last June and because of its restricted distribution a course of action aimed at eradication has been mounted. A thorough survey in November 1997 had determined the insect could not be found outside the original area of infestation. This initial quick positive action by Ministry of Forestry Forest Health and Standards team have been instrumental in confining the insect to the Mount.

Treatments carried out to March this year have seen the crowns of 92 infested and neighbouring trees sprayed to kill caterpillars. Full crown coverage was achieved by using aerial platforms. The March 1998 survey also used aerial means to permit the Forest Health Advisers to examine foliage more closely. All trees displaying evidence of Uraba will be sprayed along with every eucalypt within 20 metres.

The survey found three infested trees - one at the Mt Maunganui golf course and two at the Omanu golf course. A total of fourteen trees were sprayed on 17 March. MAF will continue to monitor eucalypts in the area.

Ross Morgan, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Christchurch

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(Scion is the trading name of the New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited.)


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