The privet lace bug (Leptophya hospita) is planned to act as a biological control agent for privet, and the regional council made an application to the EPA on behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective, which represents 12 regional councils/unitary authorities and the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Privet is considered to be a significant weed, and is too abundant in many regions to be controlled by conventional methods.
It is proposed the privet lace bug be introduced to feed on the leaves of the privet weed. The aim is to reduce the growth and productivity of the plant. The EPA invited submissions on the application on 20 January 2015 and received eight submissions. Six submissions were in support of the application and a further two submissions neither supported nor opposed the application.
The Decision-making Committee has approved the application without controls in accordance with the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. The EPA’s role is to decide on applications for new organisms under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.
There are four species of privet in New Zealand, and two are considered to be serious weeds. Chinese privet and tree privet are native to China and were introduced to New Zealand as ornamental plants and as hedging. Both became naturalised in New Zealand in the 1950s.
Chinese privet and tree privet are now abundant in the North Island and are spreading. They invade native plant communities, replacing native shrubs. Both are abundant in urban areas and are thought by many to cause or to worsen allergies such as hay fever and asthma.