Bee­tle a new weapon against in­va­sive weed

Central and North Burnett Times - - FENCE POST - Adam McCleery adam.mccleery@cnbtimes.com.au

PARTHENIUM and cats claw creeper weeds present a con­stant threat to lo­cal and high-value agri­cul­tural land in the North Burnett.

The spread­ing of the weed and seeds al­low­ing for coloni­sa­tion, par­tic­u­larly after wet weather, presents the big­gest is­sue to con­tain­ing the in­va­sive weeds.

In 2013, bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol fa­cil­i­ties were built on the agri­cul­tural grounds of Monto State High School with fund­ing from the Burnett Mary Re­gional Group and North Burnett Land­care.

Fund­ing ceased in 2014 and that is when the coun­cil be­gan its multi-agency dis­cus­sions.

An idea was in­spired by the Gympie Land­care bio-con­trol fa­cil­ity, lead­ers in the suc­cess­ful cul­ti­va­tion of the jewel bee­tle, a preda­tory in­sect that tar­gets cats claw creeper.

Gympie Land­care ad­min­is­tra­tor Jen­nyWhite said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing bio-con­trol agents for a decade now.

“We have had some ex­pe­ri­ence with it and in terms of the cats claw creeper, the jewel bee­tle is our third in­sect and we have been work­ing on it for about three years,” MrsWhite said.

“We have had mixed re­sults but the jewel bee­tle has es­tab­lished well.

“We haven’t quite had the same level of im­pact but as the pop­u­la­tion builds it will in­crease im­pact.” PHOTO: ADAM MCCLEERY

The head of the catch­ment that feeds into the Burnett River sys­tem is north of Monto, pro­vid­ing a unique op­por­tu­nity for ri­par­ian re­cov­ery and man­age­ment on a re­gional level.

Each group has a role to play in the col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Burnett Mary Re­gional Group pro­ject of­fi­cer Lynda Wills said ap­proach­ing the prob­lem of in­va­sive weeds was multi-faceted.

“This is cer­tainly one of the tools in the tool box for the con­trol of cats claw creeper,” MrsWills said.

“It’s part of an in­te­grated pest-man­age­ment so­lu­tion for con­trol.”

The jewel bee­tle feeds on the fo­liage of cats claw creeper.

“They go through rig­or­ous screen­ing be­fore­hand,” Mrs White said.

“Un­for­tu­nately there is no magic bul­let – it’s a long-term bat­tle.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

EAT­ING FOR TWO: Jewel bee­tles have a two-phase at­tack as leaves are eaten by both the lar­vae and adult bee­tles.

The Gayn­dah wash­down fa­cil­ity is open 24 hours in a bid to pre­vent the spread of in­va­sive­weeds.

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