School breeds bugs to tackle prob­lem plants

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

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.

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