School breeds bugs to tackle problem plants
HUNGRY bugs may hold the secret to eliminating the trove of weeds causing North Burnett landowners grief.
Monto Landcare founder Glenn Baker explained how the bugs bred in three tunnel houses at Monto State High School have been specifically chosen for their taste for parthenium weed, cat’s claw creeper and blue heliotrope.
The plan is to grow enough of these five types of bugs to release them into the wild to feast on problem plants.
“Some of the bugs suck the living daylights out of the plant, while others eat all the leaves away until just the dead leaf skeleton remains,” he said.
There are two species that eat cat’s claw, one for blue heliotrope and two for parthenium.
Monto State High School agricultural science students will be crucial to the project by taking care of $70,000 worth of tunnel houses, built a few months ago with a Burnett Mary Regional Group grant.
“What’s really exciting for us is that we will hopefully be able to help farmers reduce their reliance on chemicals in the future,” Monto State High School agriculture teacher Andrew Wall is said.
“It’s also great to show the kids how science is so important in the real world.”
He said the Year 11 agricultural science class will study the effects of the bugs as a bio-control agent and compare them to chemical controls.
After an introduction to Landcare with Mr Baker last Wednesday, Mr Wallis said the students can’t wait to get started, but have to wait until springtime for the hundreds of tiny bugs to wake up from hibernation.