The gorse project is progressing well. The first releases of the gorse spider mite, Tetranychus lintearius (which attacks the mature foliage) commenced in December 1998 and by late March1999, releases had been carried out at 25 sites throughout the State.
Assessments at these sites show that the mite is surviving and reproducing well. However, colonies will need to survive the winter and start to multiply in the spring before permanent establishment can be confirmed. Mass releases of the agent from our cultures will also commence again in the spring. Releases will then continue in all parts of the state.
Host specificity testing on a second agent, the gorse thrips, Sericothrips staphylinus, has commenced in New Zealand and we hope to be able to introduce this species, which attacks young gorse shoots and seedlings, into Tasmania within the next 12 months.