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…

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…

Extreme Makeover: Wētā Motel Edition

Think of a motel. A bright neon sign flashing “VACANCY”. A building with lots of rooms. A large car park probably. These images jump into your mind. However, for many insects, birds and lizards the reality is a lot different. To them, a motel is a place to sleep for…

Aussie beetlers and views on reviews

I really like reading reviews. My favourite magazine is Empire, which reviews movies and, increasingly, TV series. My favourite podcasts review boardgames (like The Secret Cabal and Blue Peg, Pink Peg). My favourite science journal is the Quarterly Review of Biology, which reviews recent science books. I sometimes think that…

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…

Hoverfly heroes- win the war on aphids

New Zealanders spend a fair bit of spare time in their gardens. If your roses are looking like the one below, covered in aphids, or your citrus trees have gone black with mould, you could spray insecti- or fungicides. Or, you could add some plants into your garden to encourage…

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…

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…

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…