Maui ranchers get moths to control fireweed plant


Ranchers get moths to control fireweed

HONOLULU (AP) — Maui is getting some moths to control a fast-growing weed that’s toxic to cattle and horses.

The state Department of Agriculture on Thursday released about 50 Madagascan fireweed moths and 500 larvae of the same species at Haleakala Ranch.

The larvae eat the leaves of an invasive fireweed plant that’s making it difficult for ranchers to raise cattle.

Last month, the department released the moth at Kahua Ranch on the Big Island.

The fireweed plant is native to Madagascar. It’s not known when it was introduced to Hawaii, but it showed up in Big Island pastures in the 1980s. Officials believe fireweed came to Hawaii in mulch imported from Australia.

The weed is now infesting more than 850,000 acres on Maui and Hawaii islands.

 

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