My Grandad’s Not Batty

My Grandad is an old school farmer in Central Hawkes Bay. Although he is quick with a dry joke, he is a man of few words. However, my Grandad is extremely knowledgeable in the ways of the natural world. He seems to know substantial information on the functionality of New…

A Prickly Problem: Munching Away on New Zealand’s Worst Pastoral Weed

200 years ago, there were no thistles present in New Zealand. Fast-forward to 2020 and they are just about everywhere. The worst species is Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense), which is estimated to cost almost $700 million in productivity losses per year.  A beetle, recently introduced to New Zealand to help…

Insects gather, and now our watch begins

Above: Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, Lowland Kahikatea in the Riccarton Bush forest remnant. Jon Sullivan (CC BY-NC 2.0) With the final season of Game of Thrones recently completed, it is only fitting for this blog post to be inspired by the greatest TV show of all time (no bias intended). Although attempting to squeeze…

Helping Moths and Butterflies

Moths and butterflies belong to insect order Lepidoptera, which means scaly wing in Greek. This order contains more than 350,000 known species worldwide. They are grouped into about 39 superfamilies depending on forms, behaviours and environment. Only 16 superfamilies are found in New Zealand. 35 out 120 families occur naturally…

Insect: Endgame

With a snap of our fingers, humans have doomed 40% of the world’s insects. Move over Thanos there is a new villain in town. A newly published international report found that 40% of the world’s insects are declining and could be extinct in a few decades! This collapse in the…

No Buzz, No Food, No Joke.

Decline of insect pollination and its economic effect on NZ crop production. Honey Bee in Apple Tree My earliest memory of wanting to become a scientist goes way back. I was only 8 years old when I imagined myself lying somewhere in the Amazon, observing the behaviour of small mammals…

What did you eat today?

For most people its a difficult and uncomfortable subject but what if I told you that I could figure out where you’ve been and what you’ve eaten based only on your poop. That’s right I said it, poop. So, yeah there may be a nicer way to say it, such…

Craft beers and crafty bugs

I have to admit a certain fondness for craft beers. I particularly like the big tasting American pale ales but will generally try any old thing that I come across. There is certainly a large diversity of craft beers around and it taps into that collector gene that gets you excited…

Balancing the risks and benefits of biological control

Biological control against introduced pests in New Zealand have been used constantly since the late 19th century. However, it is much harder to introduce new agents now due to regulations set by the New Zealand Governments Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), previously known as the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). Biological control…

It’s all about the birds, but what about the bugs?

Predator control by poisons is considered a must by many in New Zealand. This is a touchy subject to approach as people’s opinions tend to be polarised with arguments for and against. These are particularly focused on how humane these controls are, and the risk to non-target species, especially birds….