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Unusual find in feijoas

Unusual find in feijoas

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23 May 24 Biosecurity News

Unusual find in feijoas

It’s feijoa season and recently KVH received a report of unusual pinkish caterpillars found in the flesh of feijoas from two separate gardens in Papamoa.

The question was whether these might be evidence that guava moth had made its way to the Bay of Plenty.

Guava moth came from Australia, where they are found from Queensland to Tasmania. Their native host plant is the magenta lilly pilly, a member of the Myrtaceae plant family that includes pōhutukawa, eucalyptus and feijoas.

They were first observed in New Zealand in 1997 on citrus at Ahipara and are now well established in Northland and across Auckland. The presence of guava moth has limited the production of commercially grown feijoas in the Auckland area and spoilt feijoa crops in many home gardens.

It has not been reliably found south of the Bombay Hills although isolated finds have been noted in the Waikato and the Coromandel.

This pest damages a wide range of produce including feijoas, guavas, macadamia nuts, stone fruits, and citrus. Hatched caterpillars burrow into the fruit feeding on the flesh and leaving rotting, brown patches, excreta, and mould inside the fruit. These symptoms matched the damage seen by our caller.

Interestingly though, diagnostics of the caterpillar sent to the Plant Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL), confirmed the visitor as Blastobasis tarda, a species of moth also originally from Australia and now introduced to North America, and France with spread across Europe continuing.

These larvae also feed on fruit, including feijoa and citrus, and the species is thought to potentially be a major pest for date palm crops in Italy. Blastobasis tarda has previously been confirmed as present in New Zealand and does not pose a biosecurity risk to kiwifruit but can certainly spoil our garden feijoa treats.

KVH would like to thank our caller for taking the time to catch, snap, and report this unusual find.

Image: The feijoa damage reported (left), and the caterpillar responsible (right) which was caught and reported to KVH.


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