A decision to allow the release of the lace bug as a biological control agent against woolly nightshade is expected to reap rewards within three or four years of its introduction next spring.
The Environmental Risk Management Authority has approved the release of the lace bug, after extensive trials.
The application was made by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, on behalf of the national biocontrol collective made up of other regional councils, the Department of Conservation and Landcare Research.
The council's Senior Pest Plant Officer, John Mather, says it is hoped the lace bug will establish itself on woolly nightshade in large numbers, where it will feed on the leaves, causing the plant to decline.
The council is confident the risks to other plants are neglible, Mr Mather says, due to robust safety tests in South Africa and New Zealand which have shown the bug did not attack plants of the same species.