Students win cash prizes for destroying moth pods

Botany Downs Secondary College won both the first and the second place at the Pest Free Howick Moth Pod competition. Photo supplied

Six local schools, 10 teams and 38 students from different schools were all on a mission to banish an invasive species of moth pods and vines that have tenaciously spread their tentacles all over Auckland.

The students went about it with militant precision, and their efforts were well rewarded at an award function held recently by Auckland Council at Howick College.

A handsome prize of $2000 for moth pod heads got local students to collect 9989 pods and small vines with around 700 seeds per pod.

It means that 6,992,300 seeds will not germinate, said Lorelle Stranaghan, coordinator Pest-Free Howick, who is thrilled with the response.

In an attempt to create a pest-free Howick Ward, along with collecting the pods and small vines by the roots, the students also cut the vines and applied a herbicide paste called Picloram Gel which kills the vine (they get a kit as part of the competition containing a bottle of Picloram Gel, a supply of disposable gloves, protective eyewear, full instructions on use).

Richard Henty, head of learning science at Howick College who informally started Society Totally Against Moth Plant (STAMP) in 2004 encouraged students to begin formally mapping and tracking moth pod plants and the locations they have visited.

“Report all known addresses or gps (coordinates) of where you went. From October 1 you must challenge yourself to visit and report on 20 known locations near you,” he told the enviro groups.

Thirteen-year-olds Alexey Filyaev and Tanish Mahakal, from Botany Downs Secondary College proved to be zealous pod hunters as they demolished 2265 pods over a period of one month.

Team Demon comprising Alexey Filyaev and Tanish Mahakal, both 13, from Botany Downs Secondary College proved to be zealous pod hunters as they demolished 2265 pods over a period of one month and went home happy with $650.

The second prize of $400 was also scored by the Cultured Moth Destroyers from Botany College as the team managed to vanquish 1878 pods in total.

Team Moth-erland Protectors from Macleans College took the third prize of $300 for getting rid of 1588 pods.

The Edgewater College Enviro Club won $200 for fourth with a prized collection of 1349 moth pods and vines to their credit. The Howick College Enviro Group were fourth and went home with $150 for 1028 pods, while team Sancta Maria College won $100 for getting rid of 882 pods.