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…

Indigenous knowledge: Māori responses to biosecurity threats

What is science? This is a big question that most people, including scientists, may never consider. Science is a huge part of our day to day lives and, today, is considered the most reliable and accurate system for learning about our world. But does this mean that it is 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…

Save our bees or the consequences will sting

Save the bees! You’ve heard this before. Yet, most of us are either scared to be stung, or worse, are allergic to them. So, it can be difficult to grasp the thought that we should protect their wee bee lives. But, since we often hear about their distressing decline, they…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Native plants bring all the (wana)bees to the yard

Pollination is a vital service that many insect species do us the honour of performing. Pollinators allow us to enjoy the many different flowers, fruits and vegetables that grow as a result. In New Zealand the exotic honey bee (Apis mellifera), along with the bumblebee, is the most abundant pollinator….