• Moth plant pods.
  • Moth Plant pods.
  • Moth plants in Torbay Heights Reserve.

Tackling pest plants to protect nature and our health


Pest plants, such as moth plant, are invading Auckland’s North Shore – your gardens and your nearby bush reserves. Controlling them when they are small is easy and cheap. If they are left to grow, they can spread across your property onto your neighbours’ gardens and to nearby reserves.

Moth plant is a particularly nasty pest plant as it spreads so quickly and smothers our native bush. It is poisonous to people (and traps Monarch butterflies!) and its sap can irritate our skin.

From January, the vines form bell-shaped creamy coloured flowers, occasionally with pink streaks. Over the next few months, these flowers turn into large, green, pear-shaped pods. If left, each pod will release thousands of fluffy parachute seeds into the air infesting more and more of our gardens, parks and bush. This is where you can help.

If you notice moth plant on your property or in your nearby parks, please take action as soon as possible:
• Report the weed using the EcoTrack.nz app.
• Pull or dig out any small seedlings, including roots.
• For medium-sized vines, find the stem where it goes into the ground, cut it near the base of the vine, and immediately paste a thin smear of MetGelTM onto the cut stem.
• For monster-sized vines, scrape a vertical length of the bark, about four times the diameter of the trunk, near the base of the stem. Immediately paste a thin smear of MetGelTM onto the scraped stem.
• There are groups of volunteers who may be able to help by providing tools, herbicide, advice and training. Please get in touch using the contact details below.
• Dispose of all seed pods, flowers and roots in your rubbish bin to go to landfill, securely tied inside a plastic bag - to stop it spreading to other areas. Unfortunately, they can't be composted.
• Leave the vine hanging in the tree to die.
• Talk to your neighbours, tell them about moth plant and encourage them to take action too!

There are several environmental networks across Auckland’s North Shore that support communities to recognise, report and remove pest plants and restore our native wildlife.

East Coast Bays and Hibiscus Coast – Restore Hibiscus & Bays: info@restorehb.org.nz
Kaipātiki – Pest Free Kaipātiki: enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz
Takapuna – Pupuke Birdsong Project: enviro@takapunatrust.org.nz
Devonport Peninsula – Restoring Takarunga Hauraki: pestfreedevonport@gmail.com
Upper Harbour – Upper Harbour Ecological Network: upperharbourecology@gmail.com

This Pest Plant of the Month feature is a collaborative initiative between these entities. Building on Te Ao Māori principles of kaitiakitanga and whanaungatanga, these environmental networks bring our communities together to foster guardianship, care and respect towards our whenua, natural world and indigenous wildlife.

Issue 116 December 2020