Soldier beetles form huge mating swarms.
Biosecurity officials said a vessel that arrived in
Wellington from Australia this week was "literally crawling
with hundreds of beetles".
The AAL Brisbane had been targeted for full inspection by the
Ministry for Primary Industries after a recent spate of live
beetle finds on vessels arriving from Melbourne.
MPI chief executive Geoff Gwyn said the vessel was found to
have an infestation of plague soldier beetles.
"It was found to be literally crawling with hundreds of
beetles," Mr Gwyn said.
"The early warning shows our intelligence and surveillance
system is working well and we are targeting vessels and cargo
that have the highest risk."
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said plague soldier
beetles (chauliognathus lugubris) may be harmful to native
New Zealand insects, and are also a potential carrier of
diseases and other pests.
The insect's common name of plague soldier beetle is due to
its habit of forming huge mating swarms.
The AAL Brisbane's operations were halted while the beetles
MPI is investigating to determine whether there have been any
breaches of the Biosecurity Act 1993, and charges may be