Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 21, 1888
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Mr. Maskell, in replying, referred to the visit to this colony of Mr. Albert Koebele, the German naturalist who had been despatched to the colonies by the American Government to investigate the presence of a parasite which feeds on the Icerya purchasi, and said he felt convinced that it was a matter of great importance to the colonies, as it certainly was one of most vital importance to the United States, where the ravages of the pests were enormous. Some years ago the blight was very prevalent in the Auckland, Napier, and Nelson districts, but it had never appeared in Wellington. In later years, however, he said, the natural enemies of the destructive blight had so rapidly increased as to render the pest now practically a thing of the past. He (the speaker), had been, the first, about twelve years ago, to philosophically describe the pest. About six years ago a large valley near the Grafton Road, in Auckland, was literally a living mass of it, it being found by millions on every tree, shrub, and even gorse-bush; but lately he tried to get specimens in this valley, and was unable to get even half a dozen. This was in some respects also the case with the Napier district, and it he said, might be hailed with joy by growers of fruit. The blight was still prevalent in Nelson, but he had made arrangements to have some of the ladybirds—the insect which had taken to eating the Icerya—caught in Napier and forwarded to Nelson in order to stop the ravages of the blight in that quarter. He was sorry that the German naturalist he had mentioned could not be present at the meeting, but he had to leave Wellington yesterday for Napier, where he intended catching some hundreds of thousands of the ladybird-larvæ for transportation to America, and be in time for the American steamer leaving Auckland shortly. The facts which this gentleman had ascertained on the subject were exceedingly gratifying to the colonies and America, and, as the blight is gradually being got down, the fruit-growers may hope in a very short time to be able to grow their fruit free from this destructive insect.