Home' Hastings Mail : December 13th 2011 Contents 8 HASTINGS MAIL, DECEMBER 14, 2011
We do our bit
to save water
by using a
"Instead of using a sprinkler on
the garden, I use our soaker hose
as it uses a lot less water."
Lisa, Havelock North
Unwelcome alien ants
stable in Hawke's Bay
One of the world s worst invasive insect
species, the argentine ant, is mysteriously
dying off in some parts of New Zealand --
but the species still has a strong foothold in
Hawke s Bay.
Research results on the ant from Victoria
University came as Hawke s Bay Regional
Council sent out its annual warning to
homeowners to watch for the ants, and lay
poison as necessary.
The argentine ant posed a huge risk to
horticulture and threatened native species.
They could attack birds, had been known
to eat lizards in New Zealand and the
World Conservation Union classed them as
one of the world s 100 worst invasive
The small, brown insects were first found
in New Zealand in 1990 and had spread
throughout the North Island, usually
attracted to warm climates like Northland
and Hawke s Bay.
Their colonies reached as far south as
Christchurch. But some populations had
started dying off, though the reason for
their deaths was unclear, Victoria
University associate professor Phil Lester
Prof Lester and masters student Meghan
Cooling concluded that colonies naturally
collapsed after about 10 to 20 years. The
pair assessed about 150 ant-infested sites
throughout the country, including several
in Hastings and a few in Napier.
While across New Zealand colonies had
disappeared from at least 40 per cent of the
sites and populations had significantly
shrunk at the other sites, in Hastings the
findings had been less dramatic, Prof
Some are stable and some have shrunk,
but not as much as in other areas.
In Hastings the biggest colony was just
north of the Hastings Showgrounds, adjac-
ent to the railway line, measuring about a
square kilometre, he said.
It had shrunk a little.
He said next year s research results
would be interesting.
What we often see is satellite popu-
lations popping up somewhere they haven t
been before, and that will grow for a few
The species was most commonly spread
by people moving pot plants which had the
ants in the soil, Prof Lester said.
When the species was first discovered in
New Zealand the Government estimated
the ants would cost about $68 million a
year in pest control, Prof Lester said.
They had destroyed farms overseas and
killed off other species but had not been so
disastrous in New Zealand.
They could potentially threaten the
viticulture and horticultural industries if
populations got out of hand. If they were to
reach Department of Conservation
protected islands, the results could be
The ants measured two to three
millimetres and produced multiple queens
and could form huge super-colonies that
extended for thousands of kilometres,
according to the Biosecurity New Zealand
website. They could bite and caused a reac-
tion in some people.
Two for the price of one: The Collings family has it right, says the Hastings District Council,
washing their car on the lawn so the water does double duty watering the grass. Lisa and Andy
Collings are helped by their children, Jo-Jo, 3, Isla, 4, and Daniel, 11.
With the much awaited hot
weather due to turn up at
any minute, the Hastings
District Council is urging
residents to conserve water
Water use in urban and
rural areas in Hastings
almost doubles during hot,
The council is promoting
a range of water-saving
initiatives through a mar-
keting campaign over sum-
mer including water conser-
roadsides to keep residents
updated on any restrictions
Council staff will be
closely monitoring the
amount of water being used
across the district s water
supplies during summer,
and water restrictions may
be imposed in urban areas if
required, a spokesman
Water saving tips
Water the garden in the
early morning or evening
when it is cooler.
Wash the car on the lawn.
Move your water sprinkler
every 10 minutes.
Use a soaker hose, it is
more water efficient.
Mow the lawn less often
and do not always use the
Reduce shower times to
three to five minutes.
Only run the dishwasher
or washing machine when
they are full.
Do not leave water run-
ning when rinsing dishes or
Fix dripping taps.
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