By NatureWatch NZ
Back in April, NatureWatchNZ brought you the sad news that myrtle rust had been found in Northland, and we asked the community to keep an eye out for it. We now have a new weapon in the fight against the plant disease myrtle rust, currently threatening a number of New Zealand’s native species, including pōhutukawa, ramarama, northern and southern rātā and manuka. A smartphone app to help you report myrtle rust has been developed by the Northland Regional Council, Scion, Envirolink, Te Tira Whakamātaki (Maori Biosecurity Network), Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, and MPI. The app works with NatureWatchNZ so that all NZ’ers can assist in a surveillance campaign to find myrtle rust.
The myrtle rust reporter app is freely available in the iPhone and Android app stores. We encourage you to give this new bilingual app a go and use it to record a dozen potential host plants in your community. You will become the kaitiaki (or guardian) of these specific plants. Check these plants regularly and look for telltale yellow spores on new growth. If you think you’ve found myrtle rust, remember not to touch the plant or the symptoms. Take a picture and submit your record using the app. Then immediately phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66. The investigator on the phone will use your app username to look up your record and discuss your photo with you.
It’s super important that you do record your host plants so that we all know what plants you are looking after. Myrtle rust has so far been found in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, and Te Puke, however New Zealand’s a big place and myrtle rust has tiny little spores so as a group we need to make sure we cover as much of New Zealand as possible. Check out where other people are helping by visiting the myrtle rust reporter project where we will update you with progress.