Naturalist and entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste, aka ‘the bug man', visited Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology on Thursday as part of Biosecurity Week.
He talked to horticulture and environmental management students about biosecurity, and the important role it plays in maintaining biodiversity – what Rudd calls ‘our most precious asset'.
“At the moment we have millions of bugs doing pollination, recycling, and pest control, all for free,” he says.
“But our biodiversity is declining rapidly. We have to conserve and treasure what we've got, which means an ecological system uncompromised by invasive species – no new introductions.”
He says there are simple ways for people to help protect New Zealand's biodiversity, particularly when travelling overseas.
“Come back with clean shoes, and don't bring back anything alive, or any food. And if you do bring something, declare it.”
He says it would also help if New Zealanders became more ‘nature literate'.
“Learn about the plants, bugs and birds in your garden, so you can notice when something is weird. And if you do see something strange or unusual, notify MPI.”
Toi Ohomai environmental management tutor Lisa Denmead says Ruud's visit is a valuable learning experience for students.
“Many of our students will go onto work in areas like biosecurity and biocontrol, so the knowledge he will share can be directly applied to their studies, and their future careers.”
“Ruud's enthusiasm is infectious,” says Linton Winder, Toi Ohomai's Head of Faculty of Primary Industries, Science and Environment.
“New Zealand really needs applied scientists and experts like Ruud to show us why that knowledge is so important.
“Entomologists have an important part to play to protect us from invasive pests that damage our crops, and to protect our wonderful and unique biodiversity.”