9 Oct 2012

EPA approves weevils to combat barberry

5:56 am on 9 October 2012

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application from Southland Regional Council to release two weevils as the first biological control agents for an invasive weed, Darwin's barberry.

One of the weevils destroys flower buds, reducing the weed's ability to flower and fruit. The other one feeds on seeds in the fruit.

Darwin's barberry is a South American plant historically used in hedges to fence livestock, but is now a plant pest in many parts of New Zealand.

It invades pasture, forest areas, scrub and tussock-land, and spreads along roadsides.

Seeds are spread long distances by birds that eat the berries and it can grow faster than native species in the right conditions.