Responding positively to plant defences, a candidate key trait for invasion success in the New Zealand grass grub Costelytra zealandica

Occasionally, exotic plant introductions lead to the emergence of an invasive insect within its native geographical range. Such emergence could be explained by a pre-adaptation of the insect to break through the defences of the new encountered host. We investigated the fitness responses of two New Zealand endemic scarabs (Costelytra brunneum and C. zealandica) when given a diet of an exotic pasture species, Trifolium repens, whose defences were artificially triggered by the phytohormone jasmonic acid.

Towards greener pastures—Pathogens and pasture pests

Two of New Zealand's most important insect pests, grass grub and porina, are endemic species which have successfully colonised improved pastures. Population densities of these insects within this new environment are far greater than in the native plant systems in which they evolved. Within these high populations diseases have flourished, and high numbers of diseases are recorded from each of these pests. These include bacteria, fungi, nematodes, viruses and protozoa.