Myrtle rust reporter app now available

A new smartphone app has been developed to help detect the spread of the plant disease myrtle rust. Project leader and Forest Entomologist at Scion, Dr Stephen Pawson talked to Radio New Zealand's Jesse Mulligan about the app and how every New Zealander can become a kaitiaki of their favourite myrtle plants. Listen to the interview here.

Steve says we now have a new weapon in the fight against myrtle rust, currently threatening a number of New Zealand’s native species, including pōhutukawa, ramarama, northern and southern rātā and mānuka.

Developed by the Northland Regional Council, Scion, Envirolink, Te Tira Whakamātaki (Māori Biosecurity Network), Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, and MPI, the app works within the well-established NatureWatch NZ platform.

This new bilingual app, allows users to record a dozen potential host plants in their community, and monitor these specific plants. Users are encouraged to check these plants regularly and look for telltale yellow spores on new growth.

If you think you’ve found myrtle rust, remember not to touch the plant or the symptoms. Take a picture and submit your record using the app. Then immediately phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66. The investigator on the phone will use your app username to look up your record and discuss your photo with you. Check out where other people are helping by visiting the myrtle rust reporter project where we will update you with progress.

This project is part of a two year programme in the Biological Heritage National Science challenge that aims to develop mobile technology tools to protect New Zealand from biosecurity threats. For more information on the project visit the Biological Heritage website.


Visit Nature Watch to download the app for your phone.