Praise for biosecurity hero as Scion and industry calls for more reports

23 May 2023

FOA media release

The Forest Owners Association and Scion want more reports of suspicious imported wood products which might be infested with introduced wood and forest pests.

FOA Biosecurity Manager, Brendan Gould, says Northlander Michelle Reichardt is a biosecurity hero for alerting MPI to some holes and sawdust in an imported wooden serving tray she had just bought from Kmart.

MPI identified the insect responsible as the African powder post beetle, which it says is a foreign import.

Kmart has recalled the trays and says it’s secured the trays it hadn’t yet sold, pending an investigation.
Brendan Gould says this is not the first time the African powder post beetle has been found in New Zealand inhabiting recently imported wood products.

“We have a world class biosecurity system, but even with the current measures insect pests can still get through and can harm our environment, our production and our communities, and we need the help of alert members of the public, such as Michelle Reichardt, to dob in these unwanted insects to the biosecurity authorities.”

Brendan Gould says the African powder post is probably not a threat to plantation pines and other softwood trees, but the beetle threatens untreated timber.

“Given the important role that trees and wood play in reducing our climate impacts through sequestering carbon it’s crucial we protect them from all pests and diseases.

Scion entomologist, Stephanie Sopow, says powder post beetles damage the sapwood of seasoned wood and wood products, almost always hardwood, including oak, eucalyptus, and also bamboo.

“Some of our native hardwoods are likely to be susceptible, given the related Lyctus brunneus is present in New Zealand and favours tawa and rewarewa, if these wood products are untreated.”

“Given the biosecurity threat posed by these wood borer pest intruders, Scion urges people to report any observed symptoms quickly, including holes roughly 1.5mm in diameter, fine talcum powder-like boring dust, and possibly sounds made by the insects while chewing.”

“If you see any unusual insects or disease symptoms, especially on or from imported or recently purchased goods, report these to Biosecurity New Zealand’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline.”

Biosecurity New Zealand’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline, 0800 80 99 66.

A specialist investigator will follow these up reports to evaluate any biosecurity risk.