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The latest weapon in the fight against ragwort is small and fluttery, according to experts in New Zealand.

NZ Landcare Trust’s West Coast Ragwort Project has introduced a small insect, the plume moth, into the countryside in the hope that the caterpillars will eat the flowers, leaves and roots of the plants.

And it can take only two caterpillars to kill a plant.

Ragwort can be fatal if eaten by horses, attacking the liver.

A spokesman for the project said: “If the moths establish and are effective, farmers will gain a long-term sustainable method of controlling ragwort which is a bad weed for dairy farmers.

“It will also save money by reducing the need for other, more costly types of weed control, like spraying by helicopter.”

The plume moth is a native of central Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and southern Europe.