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NZ potato & tomato growers relieved at the release of pest eating wasp

A pest which has cost the New Zealand potato industry over $120 million since 2006 may be on the way out thanks to a wasp which has been released in Hawke's Bay and Canterbury.

The tamarixia trioaze, a wasp that comes from the United States and Mexico, destroys the tomato potato psyllid pest by laying an egg on the psyllid.

The wasp eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the TPP. Eventually, the larvae will chew a hole through the TPP's shell to emerge as an adult.

Vegetable Research and Innovation Board coordinator Sally Anderson said the arrival of the wasp was a relief for greenhouse growers.

"Greenhouse capsicum and tomato growers have had their integrated pest management (IPM) programmes disrupted by the arrival of this pest, and these industries have seen production costs increase as a result."

Overseas suppliers sell the pest killer at the equivalent of NZ$25 for 250 adults. Anderson expected a similar price when commercialised in New Zealand.

"We hope to have a commercial supply established in the next six months so that growers can access and start using [the wasp] as part of their pest control programmes."

"The tomato industry has very much been affected by the psyllid. We estimate that it has cost the fresh and processed industry $760,000 every year since 2006," she said. 


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