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…

Summer success for ballooners: spiders take the high road

New Zealand is renowned for the changes that have been wrought on it by humans.  First by Maori, then by Europeans.  One of the long term changes created by Maori have been the tussock grasslands of Canterbury, Southland and Otago.  The local fauna have adapted and created their own ecosystem.  Over the…

Predafiles: how to solve the problem of pest mammals in NZ

Pest mammal control, in particular the use of 1080, has long been a hot topic in New Zealand. Feratox owner, Jeremy Kerr did an excellent job of reigniting the 1080 debate last year when he threatened to contaminate baby powder with the toxin. The media storm that followed highlighted the polarising nature…

The invasion of Californian Thistle (and how to fight back!)

Since 1878, the dreaded Californian thistle has caused mayhem throughout New Zealand farms! It is very problematic to the country’s pastoral farming systems, costing close to $700 million each year. The invaders have been subjected to a continuous battle with herbicides. This has been an effective, if costly, method of control…

Pickling pork: control of feral pigs with sodium nitrate

Killing animals is certainly not what comes to mind first when you think about nature conservation. Sometimes, however, killing a certain species is necessary to conserve another. One of the species which is killed for the sake of conservation is the feral pig, Sus scrofa. Feral pigs are omnivorous which…

There’s something in the water (potential)

On our regular summer beach holidays to Kaka Point in the Catlins, my family’s favourite pastime is boogie-boarding. We don our wetsuits, slap on some sunblock, grab our boards and hit the beach whenever we can. There is something very primeval about pitting yourself against the waves. The exhilaration of…

Why wasps and bees hover over cabbage plants

I grew up in a rural Papua New Guinea village, cared for by my grandpa as my parents were separated. Following the old man daily to his garden, I noticed he had a diversity of food plants from root to tuber crops, from more traditional to introduced vegetables (self-pollinating and vegetatively propagated). Maturing 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…