Jewel beetle crowning glory for facility
MONTO State High School has unveiled a new project to combat the spread of an invasive species devastating the North Burnett’s agricultural sector.
The bio-control facility was officially opened on Wednesday.
Extensive modifications have brought the space back to life in a major boost for the school’s science and agriculture programs.
Students will use the research centre to help local vegetation overrun by cat’s claw.
The revamped facility is breeding jewel beetles – bugs evolved to eat the destructive plant and curb its spread.
Council’s natural resource management officer, Jenny Voigt, said floods had allowed the pest to thrive along the Burnett River.
“Cat’s claw is an environmental weed but it’s just as devastating as agricultural weeds,” she said.
“Once it spreads to trees and enters the canopy it flowers and seeds.
“It can completely smother the environment.
“The insects won’t kill the plant but they will reduce its vigour.
“It’s not a silver bullet but it slows down the process and allows other methods to work.”
Monto State High School principal Kylie Cochran said students would benefit from taking part in a real-world pest management project.
“It’s a fantastic facility,” Mrs Cochran said.
“It will open up research-based career opportunities for our science, agriculture and humanities students.”
CUTTING EDGE: Toby Worley, Kylie Cochran, Jill Robertson and Jenny Voigt launch the new bio-control research facility at Monto State High School.