Students become moth pod hunters

Students in Howick Ward schools enjoy becoming moth pod enthusiasts. Photo supplied

A Howick competition is encouraging students to become moth plant crusaders – and win cash doing so.

It is open to all students in the Howick Ward. In the past, one of the Macleans College students described the competition as “the best green jam ever”.

“Collect moth pods and win amazing prizes,” Pest Free Howick writes. “Each pod counts as those with the most win!”

Students, both individually or in teams, register and then venture into the community to collect moth pods from vines. Currently there are 11 schools involved and 23 teams registered.

For the past three years it has been run by the Pest Free Howick Team. Last year the competition was halted due to Covid-19. There were more than 50 teams registered.

Described as “pretty but deadly”, moth plants are an invasive pest plant which grown and smother native vegetation.

Each pod has 250-1000 parachute-like seeds which can burst and spread. They can nestle themselves in canopies and cause them to collapse.

“Once you start noticing the moth plants,” Lorelle Stranaghan, the co-ordinater of Pest Free Howick says, “you will begin to see they’re everywhere”.

A benefit to the competition is that it helps Stamp – Society Totally Against Moth Plant – control this unrelenting, vicious plant.

This local organisation, run by Richard Henty, is continuously mapping and removing pods to prevent the spread of moth plants.

“Richard is a teacher at Howick College,” Lorelle says. “We work quite closely with him”.

Students are given kits that have tools to remove the plants.

Most importantly, she says, students must be aware the moth plant is an irritant.

“Remember to read the Health and Safety Guidelines, keep your feet on the ground, use tools to reach up high and wear gloves,” says Lorelle.

“Be safe. Students must report sightings of vines to mothplantlocations@gmail.com.

Additionally the Stamp location map has all known locations of moth pods.”
Envrionment school clubs can join the competition, make a difference and grow their skills.

“This year we’ve set up a leadership programme,” Lorelle says. “It’s an opportunity for students to gain valuable leadership experience and feel valued by the community”.

The $4000 prize pool is split into four categories: Preschool, Primary, Intermediate and Secondary. 1st place is $500, 2nd is $300 and 3rd $150.

There are additional prizes too. Thickest vine is $100 and most small vines pulled by the roots are $100. If a student pulls at least 50 pods or small vines pulled by the roots, they are in the draw for a spot prize.

Once their pods are collected, students must send a picture in as proof.

“When you are finished with your pods,” Lorrelle says, “dispose of them at the Howick Local Board public weed disposal bins”.

Or students can bag them up and dispose of them in the weekly landfill waste bins.

Registrations close on April 9. Students can start collecting from the day they register.

“When students register, they’re taking action in their commuity,” Lorelle says.

“They help their natural environment and also have the opportunity to win some money!”

The competition closes on May 9.

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