Grass Grub Is New Zealand’s Most Expensive Pest

The native grass grub is only a centimeter long but along with its thousands of relatives, it has wreaked havoc to pastures and crops in New Zealand for the past 100 years. According to a recent Ag Research study, the impact of the pasture pest cost dairy farmers an estimated $280 million. Loses to sheep and beef farmers reached $205 million making the native grass grub the most expensive New Zealand pest.

In spite of researches to control the grass grub, it continues to be an ongoing problem for the agricultural industry. Total eradication of the pest remains elusive. Farmers agree that the grass grub is the most serious pest that affects pasture and crops.

Damage to crops is caused by the larvae of the grass grub that feeds on plant roots and creates yellow patches in paddocks. As the larvae numbers increase, all that you will see in the infested areas are dead plants. Grass grub has affected most of the country except for the subtropical north.

Aside from the grass grub, there are other pests like black beetles, nematodes and weevils that are costing the economy an estimated $2.3 billion a year. The losses were measured on the basis of foliage amount that was consumed and reductions in pasture production. Reductions in pasture production have affected milk production revenues of dairy farms and meat production revenues for sheep and beef farms.

Total annual losses were estimated by AgResearch between $1.7 billion and $2.3 billion in average years. Total estimated annual loss of dairy farms is $1.4 billion and $900 million for sheep and beef farms. AgResearch is considering pest control on a number of fronts including development of new bio-pesticides. Naturally occurring organisms are better options to chemical treatments in targeting specific pest species. Chemicals are more expensive and they have a negative impact to the environment.

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