Biosecurity New Zealand’s Gypsy Moth surveillance programme has uncovered a larva of the poplar sawfly, an insect that is new to New Zealand.
The larva was detected in a trap in the suburb of Abbotsford, Dunedin, and testing has confirmed it is the poplar sawfly.
Manager of Biosecurity Surveillance and Incursion, Brendan Gould, says the species is not known to cause significant harm.
“Countries overseas where the poplar sawfly is present have not reported any major concerns about the impact it can cause. At worst it appears to cause some defoliation of poplar trees.”
The poplar sawfly is commonly found in Europe, Asia and North America.
Brendan says Biosecurity New Zealand is assessing the potential risk from the poplar sawfly.
“Once this assessment is complete we will decide on next steps alongside our GIA industry partners.”
Biosecurity New Zealand has undertaken surveillance in the area where the larva was found and has determined there is an established sawfly population in the area.
“We would like to hear from anybody who thinks they might have seen poplar sawfly larvae on poplar trees. This, along with further sampling in the area, will help us identify how far it has spread.”
If you live outside of Dunedin and Mosgiel and believe you have seen poplar sawfly larvae, keep hold of them, take a photo and call Biosecurity New Zealand’s exotic pests and diseases hotline, on 0800 80 99 66.
What do they look like?
Poplar sawfly larvae are up to 16mm long. They are overall yellow with two lateral rows of black spots and whitish hairs, heads are blackish and brownish, except some yellow spots on the frontal part.
Adult poplar sawflies are less likely to be recognisable to the public as they are small and fly in the air. They are 6-9mm long and their colouring is reddish yellow and their heads and part of thorax are black. Their wings are yellowish and glassy, and veins on wings are a reddish yellow.