Kawakawa, the ‘holey’ herb of Aotearoa

Kawakawa – photo by Wendy Fox “… And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. …. Once the…

The astonishing fungus versus the super survivor thistle

Thistles are nasty weeds on farms around the world, including New Zealand farms and the Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense) is the worst of the bunch. It’s such a nuisance that, much like the month-old yogurt pottle languishing at the back of the work fridge, nobody wants to associate themselves with…

Better than Twilight? ‘Team fungi vs Team moth’.

Ask yourself this question. Do you like moths? If one was to swoop into your periphery at this very second would you be curious, ambivalent, or terrified? I am willing to bet that many of you reading this will have a particularly strong opinion of our scaly-winged compadres. I am…

Flowers: a pretty effective way to control insect crop pests

Flowering plants play a primary role in nature. Not only do they provide additional food sources, such as nectar or pollen, to a diversity of animals (like insects, birds, and spiders), but they also provide shelter for those creatures. The decline of insect populations, recently documented in parts of the…

Alien invasions in progress

“Globalization is a fact, because of technology, because of an integrated global supply chain, because of changes in transportation. And we are not going to be able to build a wall around that.” This quote by Barack Obama, has even more relevance today than it had ten years ago. It…

Stop rot in salads! Crop rotation stalls carrot fungus

Carrots are a staple vegetable, found in most salads and filled rolls. The crisp carrots that we see every day only get to the table after a long battle against a bunch of pathogens. Alternaria radicina is an ascomycete fungi that infect carrots. It can infect all parts of the…

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…

Heavy metal remediation: Defusing the ticking chemical bomb

“Conflict” Picture made by San Jose Think about these questions: 1. Do you understand what is meant by heavy metal pollution?2. Do you know which heavy metals cause pollution? 3. Do you know which methods can control and reduce heavy metal pollution? 4. Have you ever had a heavy metal…

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle threatens palms in the Pacific Region

Coconut is an important crop in Pacific societies. They serve as a source of oil, fiber, food and timber. It is also an important small-holder crop that contributes to food security, improved nutrition, employment and income generation. Production of coconut is affected by the introduction of an invasive pest, the…

Danger? New strain of rabbit disease released in New Zealand!

Imagine its August 1997. You’ve just been out to dinner with your family. You settle down for the night surrounded by everyone you love. You wake early in the morning for breakfast, everyone around you is still asleep. Or so they appear to be. You look closer at your mother…