20,000 tiny wasps released into orchards to fight the codling moth threat to apples | Video, photos

ATTACK WEAPON: Research scientist David Williams with a container of wasps ready to fight the codling moth threat to Orange region apples. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

ATTACK WEAPON: Research scientist David Williams with a container of wasps ready to fight the codling moth threat to Orange region apples. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

If you thought the movie character Borat was Kazakhstan’s most potent export then you haven’t heard of these tiny killers.

About 20,000 of the one millimetre long mastrus wasps were released into Orange orchards on Friday.

TINY MITES: The mastrus wasps might be small but they pack a punch in the fight against codling moths in Orange orchards. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

TINY MITES: The mastrus wasps might be small but they pack a punch in the fight against codling moths in Orange orchards. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

Their task is to take down codling moths who have become a major pest to apple crops.

The wasps, first discovered in the Central Asian country in the 1990s, have been used successfully to fight the moths in several countries including the US and New Zealand.

They have been released into orchards in Victoria and Queensland and this week took up battle in NSW.

The wasps are being released by Agriculture Victoria principal research scientist David Williams.

WATCH THE WASPS ATTACK

He said they attacked moth larvae on apples, laid eggs in the cocoon and when the babies hatched they ate the emerging caterpillar before it could eat through the apple.

“It’s basically a smorgasboard of fresh food [for the wasps],” he said.

Mr Williams said the moths were a major problem to orchardists but the wasps had proven to be successful in fighting them.

The wasps are a totally different species to the European wasps which have become a nuisance to people visiting Lake Canobolas.

Mr Williams said there had been extensive testing to ensure the wasps did not become another introduced pest like cane toads or rabbits.

“There has been five years of intensive testing to prove they are not going to eat anything other than the codling moth.

“It has been very stringent after the cane toad.”

He said they also looking at the effect pesticide had on the wasps.

EYES ON THE PRIZE: NSW Farmers' Orange branch chair Bruce Reynolds, Agriculture Victoria's David Williams, orchardist Peter West and DPI development officer Adam Coleman. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

EYES ON THE PRIZE: NSW Farmers' Orange branch chair Bruce Reynolds, Agriculture Victoria's David Williams, orchardist Peter West and DPI development officer Adam Coleman. Photo: DAVID FITZSIMONS

NSW Department of Primary Industries development officer for temperate fruits, Adam Coleman, said the codling moths were a particular problem in orchards that had been neglected or abandoned, and many roadside trees in Orange.

UNDER ATTACK: The codling moth has been a pest to apple orchards for some time.

UNDER ATTACK: The codling moth has been a pest to apple orchards for some time.

He said they could also develop in backyard apple trees where people did not spray or look after them.

Orchardist Peter West said there was about 18 neglected and abandoned orchards around Orange.

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