24 Sep 2009

Fears beetle pest could damage Canterbury pasture

9:55 am on 24 September 2009

A beetle that has caused devastation in its native Australia has spread to parts of the South Island.

The red-headed cockchafer beetle has spread to Christchurch City for the first time since it entered the country about 45 years ago.

The insect has been seen in local parks, and is feared it could reach the Canterbury Plains and devastate pastures.

AgResearch associate Richard Townsend says numbers of the beetle are building up, but the extent of the problem is unknown, as many of the insects will be in private properties, from where they can spread further.