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….

Concerning hobbits and NZ grass grub

   I’ve suggested before that The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien is a great way to prepare a young person for a career in biogeography. I would go further and suggest that The Lord of the Rings is a great way to prepare someone for ecology and evolution…

Local heroes: All Blacks and weevils

The New Zealand All Blacks have just won the Rugby World Cup, beating arch rivals Australia at Twickenham in London. It’s a tremendous achievement for our little country, the first time a team has won the world cup three times and the first time a country has successfully defended the…

Know thy self, know thy enemy: white clover chemical warfare versus grass grub herbivory

In the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series,  Douglas Adams described the universe as being “a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place“. Ecological interactions between species was probably the furtherest thing from…

Big predators hunt faster

At high school I was a member of the ATC (Air Training Corp). We would meet each week at the Balclutha Primary School Hall where we would learn drill, information about planes and information about wilderness survival and first aid. Every fourth week we would go to the small-bore rifle…

Their weevil ways: too specialised to survive on the Chathams?

Change has been much on my mind recently. With one son moving into Christchurch to continue with university, another moving to Dunedin to start university and only the third at home for a couple more years (he said hopefully), I have been asked repeatedly about what I will do in…

Mossie-eating dragons, damsels causing distress

This year we are likely to develop a problem with leftovers at home. For the last few years leftovers have had a very short life in our fridge. You see we have had three teenage boys (and assorted teenage friends) around the house and it really is true about what…

Carpet Die-m: chemical warfare beneath your feet

In which we control wool eating insects. I like the quote from the Australian philosopher of science Kim Sterelny “Outside the barrier surrounding an [organism], we find a war against all. The space between skins is a no-mans land, controlled by no-one; designed for no-one; littered with the detritus of…