Road cone breeding reaches pest proportions in New Zealand | Instant News

Infestations like this are prevalent on our roads, blight in the New Zealand summer.

Warwick Smith / Goods

Infestations like this are prevalent on our roads, blight in the New Zealand summer.

OPINION: The term asexual reproduction describes when an organism is able to reproduce on its own, where the offspring are exactly the same as the parent because there is no other genetic input.

It is the primary form of reproduction for single-celled organisms such as archaea and bacteria, and more recently, highway cones.

In the middle of the night, when no one is looking, usually in summer, the road cones can multiply, and by morning the numbers have exploded.

They line the paths or paths to produce a fluoro-orange colored path, spilling into driveways and walkways, especially around newly installed potholes and gravel. Often they are seen in pairs with signs of speed, as if in symbiosis, but most of them just line up like the queen’s soldiers in a long line, which strangely faints and falls.

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Stop-go crews wave, dance and sing to motorists as traffic retreats on a road repair site south of Shannon. (First published November 2018)

There are variants too. The cone “ stock ” variant appears to be more common on rural trails and appears to feed on cow dung.

A variety of “ sporting events ” may collect sweat or beer from humans as they pass. But most vicious are the standard, unlabeled cones that, if left alone for a moment, reproduce like a coat hanger on the back of a closet.

In fact, experts say, the road cone problem is now officially a pandemic. Especially in the last 12 months, the (legislative) environment has changed so much that now there is an infestation every week.

Why use 10 road cones if 100 can do the same job.


Why use 10 road cones if 100 can do the same job.

Currently roads in New Zealand appear to lack cone immunity, so stop / go controls have been put in place on both sides of the larger outbreak.

Cars are allowed to pass, but only at 30 km / hr lest any cones jump into the car and use the opportunity to disperse.

Conspiracy theorists say that the cones multiplied in response to the 5G rollout.

A more misleading theory is that they are purposely placed on the road for traffic management purposes.

Experts in the study of cones, sorcerers, say the latter could not have happened because there were now so many that no one noticed.

Then, as soon as they arrived, the rows of cones disappeared. Except for a few who fled to the nearest sewer, someone’s backyard, or a local sports ground.

Former Massey University professor Steve Stannard.


Former Massey University professor Steve Stannard.

Some have been known to climb to the treetops, as if trying to make their way to highway cone heaven.

Long after the infestation has stopped, you may still see a rotten cone or two in the same ditch or lying under an abandoned car.

Some people think they are not dead, but are lying dormant ready to breed again when the conditions are ripe.

Preliminary studies of their life cycles show that as they disappear off the highway, most migrate en masse to the large warehouse where they hibernate, perhaps in preparation for the day when they will completely cover the road.

Fire is only partially effective in stopping its spread.

Bejon Haswell / Stuff

Fire is only partially effective in stopping its spread.

Meanwhile, our leaders ask that people stay at home, be kind and avoid contact with cones.

They are told that if someone shows up outside their property, contact the local football coach or cycling club, and they will remove, neutralize and reuse the property.

Abroad, a rediscovered strategy called common sense has shown some success in cutting highway cone numbers.

New Zealand appears to be a long way from adopting this form of treatment despite its widespread use to combat various scourges.

Steve Stannard is a former academic and business owner of Palmerston North.

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