Gar­den­ers urged to stand against pest

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page -

Gar­den­ers can help pro­tect Australia’s $1 bil­lion soft­wood plan­ta­tion in­dus­try from a new in­sect pest called gi­ant pine scale.

Gi­ant pine scale is a sap-feed­ing in­sect that can attack pine, fir and spruce trees.

More than 500 in­fested trees have been de­tected so far in Mel­bourne’s eastern sub­urbs.

Gar­den­ers across Vic­to­ria are be­ing asked to help get rid of this pest by re­port­ing any white, cot­ton­like waxy se­cre­tions on their pine, fir and spruce trees.

Dur­ing the next few months, staff from the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, Jobs, Trans­port and Re­sources will be on the hunt for gi­ant pine scale to as­sess the spread of this pest — and the com­mu­nity can help this work by look­ing in their gar­dens.

Res­i­dents can also email pho­tos of the sus­pected pest, to­gether with a con­tact phone num­ber and the lo­ca­tion, to plant.pro­tec­tion@ ecodev.vic.gov.au

Vic­to­ria’s chief plant health of­fi­cer Gabrielle Vi­vian-Smith said com­mu­nity sup­port and as­sis­tance was in­te­gral to the suc­cess of the erad­i­ca­tion pro­gram.

‘‘An ur­gent pro­gram is un­der­way to help pro­tect Australia’s more than $1 bil­lion soft­wood plan­ta­tion in­dus­try and to help main­tain the health and safety of host trees,’’ Dr Vi­vianSmith said.

‘‘To min­imise fur­ther spread, we’re ask­ing peo­ple not to touch, move or col­lect sus­pected sam­ples or parts of in­fected trees.

‘‘We are work­ing closely with lo­cal coun­cils, the nurs­ery and gar­den in­dus­try, ar­borists and re­lated busi­nesses as part of the pro­gram to en­sure all av­enues of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and trans­fer of this pest are man­aged closely.’’

Trees im­pacted by gi­ant pine scale suf­fer se­vere de­hy­dra­tion and branch dieback and can even­tu­ally die.

Most in­fested trees can be safely treated with a chem­i­cal in­jec­tion but in some cir­cum­stances may need to be re­moved.

Gar­den­ers can re­port any white, waxy se­cre­tions they see on their pine, fir and spruce trees via the toll­free Ex­otic Plant Pest Hot­line 1800 084 881.

More in­for­ma­tion about gi­ant pine scale is avail­able at www.vic.gov.au/ gi­ant­pinescale

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