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Prickly pest proves a real pain for all

- CLARE PEDDIE SCIENCE REPORTER

A PRICKLY pest found lurking in sand dunes at a suburban beach has alarmed authoritie­s, prompting warnings to coastal communitie­s.

Residents are being asked to look out for the dangerous and invasive cactus Hudson pear ( Cylindropu­ntia rosea), which grows in dense, metrehigh thickets encrusted with thousands of 5cm long spines.

The spines can lodge in the flesh of people, pets and stock, causing injury and infection.

A dog-walker in the Moana beach dunes recently spotted an outbreak and alerted Onkaparing­a Council, who had Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges remove and destroy the pest.

Natural Resources Management Board chairman Professor Chris Daniels is concerned it may be growing elsewhere.

An infestatio­n in the Murrayland­s “now forms an impenetrab­le barrier against people and stock”, he said, and local authoritie­s are working with the landowner to destroy the plant.

“It spreads quickly by shedding tiny segments, bristling with prickles, which easily attach to the fur of pets, rabbits and livestock as well as people and vehicles, establishi­ng new plants elsewhere,” Professor Daniels said.

Urban animal and plant control support officer Henry Ruth- erford said Hudson pear was found in much the same place a decade ago, but was thought to have been eradicated.

“Cactus like the Hudson pear can become ‘weeds’ when they are no longer wanted and disposed of by illegal dumping in reserves or other open spaces,” he said. “Hudson pear draws special attention due to the great density of long and dangerous spines that cover the plant. Hudson pear cannot be handled even with thick leather gloves, and the spines will easily penetrate work boots.”

A native of Mexico, and listed as a Weed of National Significan­ce by the Australian Government, the cactus has no biological control in Australia – although a potential control is being developed in Queensland and NSW.

Report sightings and photos to henry.rutherford­3@sa.gov. au or mobile 0429 584 080. CLARE.PEDDIE@NEWS.COM.AU

 ?? Pictures: HENRY RUTHERFORD/DEWNR ?? OUCH: The spines of a Hudson pear can cause severe injury and infection.
Pictures: HENRY RUTHERFORD/DEWNR OUCH: The spines of a Hudson pear can cause severe injury and infection.
 ??  ?? BOOTS AND ALL: The Hudson pear lodged in a pair of boots.
BOOTS AND ALL: The Hudson pear lodged in a pair of boots.

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