The ecology of tussock grasslands: Insects attacking tussock
Tussock is defined as any tussock species on which the insects recorded were known to feed, but unless otherwise stated, the tussocks referred to are Festuca novaezelandiae, Poa caespitosa, and P. colensoi, at altitudes ranging from 1,500-4,500 feet. Data are confined strictly to tussock itself, and do not include inter-tussock vegetation.
Earlier literature indicated that only 9 insects—all larvae of Lepidoptera—were known to feed on tussock; in addition the adults of 22 further species of Lepidoptera were recorded as being common on tussock, and a further 47 species were found on native grasses in tussock areas. The term "native grasses" has been used apparently in many cases as a general name to include the above three tussock species. In 1940 the list of insects definitely attacking tussock was extended to include a species of Odontria feeding on roots, and the caterpillars of the three moths Persectania ewingi, Leucania toroneura and L. acontistis. In 1945 grass grubs were recorded as damaging tussock. There are records of only 13 species of insects that definitely eat one or more of the three tussock species mentioned above, and an almost unlimited number of tussock-zone moths whose larvae may be able to eat tussock.