Great White Butterfly Invasion

Great White Butterfly Invasion

We have found ourselves in the middle of a biosecurity alert.  The “Great White Butterfly” appeared in Nelson a couple of years ago and apparently presents a serious threat to horticulture in the region.  At the moment there is a team of 20 or so, scouring the neighbourhood looking for signs of the pest.  Here’s what the caterpillars look like:

Great white butterfly-4876

Our property was inspected two months ago.  No sightings, but we were told what to look for and asked to remove where possible plants that the butterfly likes:  brassicas and nasturtiums in particular.  Recently we heard that infestations had been found in neighbouring properties above and below us on the Port Hills.

On the weekend we noticed a fresh patch of  nasturtiums at the bottom of a neighbour’s section, in a spot which would be out of their sight.  We called the hotline and the next day an inspector arrived.  She examined everything carefully before removing any plants (and contacted the neighbour, of course):

Great white butterfly-4872

Then she found some (the little guys shown in that first picture).

Great white butterfly-4879

The next step was to remove all of the suspect plant material, without losing any of the larvae.  It took quite a while.

Great white butterfly-4882

Let’s hope the eradication efforts succeed.  You can read more about the problem in these links:

DoC Factsheet

more on DoC’s efforts

Nelson Mail status report 3 May 2013

MPI hotline 0800 80 99 66



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