Early bird

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When we asked Adrian Malloch to go on an armyworm hunt for our feature, he was delighted. A few months prior, he’d found a strange-looking caterpillar in his garden, and fired a photo of it off to MPI. Next day the phone rang. He was the first person in Auckland to report a confirmed sighting of fall armyworm, an invasive and extremely hungry caterpillar.

Malloch’s realised that in his garden, the armyworms like to hide under paving stones. Like many gardeners, he has been using BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki) to try to keep numbers in check. Of course, there are other tried-and-true methods. Do armyworms make for a satisfying squish? Malloch laughs. “I didn’t used to love it, but I really do now.”