Brazilian bug's Bundy breeding program back on track

THE battle against pest plants in the Bundaberg region has intensified, with a suite of projects being delivered by Bundaberg Regional Council with funding made available through the Burnett Mary Regional Group as part of their flood recovery program in the Burnett catchment.

The main focus of the council's projects is to enhance existing and establish new bio-control activities for some of the region's key pest plants.

The use of insects to assist in the control of invasive weeds is seen as a more cost effective option than traditional practices and will provide landholders with an additional tool in their fight against invasive pest plants.

For several years Bundaberg Regional Council has operated a bio-control facility for the breeding of a weevil (Cyrtobagous salviniae) which was brought into Australia many years ago from Brazil by the CSIRO to be used in the fight against the aquatic pest plant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta).

The breeding facility was unfortunately inundated for a second time by flood waters in 2013 and the decision was made to relocate the equipment to the council's Heales Road storage area.

To enhance the council's existing efforts in the availability of biological control for pest plants, an additional facility was established as part of the project funding to breed and release another agent to control the invasive pest plant Cats Claw Creeper (Macfadyena unguis-cati).

The leaf-mining jewel beetle (Hylaeogena jureceki) works by laying eggs on the leaves of the vine, and when the larvae hatch the leaf is then quickly eaten.

The jewel beetle has proven to be extremely effective in greatly reducing the speedy growth rate of the problematic vine and the newly installeed igloo will help in establishing populations for release into priority areas.

To highlight the impacts of Salvinia and Cats Claw Creeper, and to enable landholders to view the new facility, Bundaberg Regional Council will be holding an open day where landholders can gain information on pest management and register their interest in acquiring bio-control agents for release on their properties.

The open day will be held at the council's depot, 23 Heales Road on Saturday, February 8, at 10am and finishing at 12pm with a sausage sizzle.

For more information, call 1300 883 699.

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