Public urged to look out for alligator weed

Alligator weed has been discovered at a second Taranaki site, but so far, both infestations appear to be well contained.

The invasive pest plant was found in a Waitara lagoon last month, the first confirmed sighting in the region. 

Taranaki Regional Council Environment Services Manager Steve Ellis says initial surveys indicate it is confined to the lagoon system. However, it is too early to rule out the possibility of further spread.

Another survey of the area is planned for November when the plant would be most visible, therefore easier to spot.  The Council will then decide how best to control the infestation. 

The weed was found in the coastal Waitara lagoon after a report by a member of the public.  Subsequent conversations with locals suggest it could have been there for a couple of years, Mr Ellis says.

“Alligator weed had never been seen in Taranaki, so it’s understandable people didn’t realise what it was.”

Meanwhile, a small infestation has also been confirmed in a private ornamental pond in Stratford.  There is no sign it has spread, however the Council will closely monitor the area while working to control the plant.

The invasive South American pest plant clogs wetlands, lakes and rivers, can increase the risk of flooding, is toxic to some livestock and can block access to waterways for recreation.

The Council is also looking at where the alligator weed may have come from. The closest known infestations are Marokopa to the north and Manawatū to the south.

“Alligator weed spreads easily so it may have been blown along the coast and pushed inland or it may have been inadvertently transported by other means.”

The Council is working with the Ministry for Primary Industries on a joint project identifying pest pathways and raising awareness about biosecurity threats.  Public vigilance is crucial to help prevent the “next pest” joining alligator weed in Taranaki.

“We are asking the public to keep their eyes peeled for anything resembling alligator weed and if in doubt, report it. If there are other infestations around the region we need to find them and act quickly to limit potential damage.”

Find more information and photos of alligator weed at link).

How you can help

  • If you see alligator weed or any unusual looking species, please call Taranaki Regional Council on 0800 736 222 or upload a photo to the Find-A-Pest app or website(external link).
  • Always Check, Clean, Dry(external link) when moving between waterways. Alligator weed and other aquatic pest plants spread easily, so make sure your gear is clean.
  • If you have a pest plant on your property, get rid of it. Get more information on pest plants and how to control them at Weedbusters Taranaki. (external link)