dock moth

PaDIS sets PHBG straight on dock moth

Have you ever noticed a colourful clear winged moth hanging around your healthy dock plants?

No because you eradicated dock from your property because its an agricultural nuisance…

That’s great news, but if you have dock you may be seeing the introduced insect the dock moth (Chamaesphecia doryliformis), which is actually an introduced biological control for the weed dock.

During the 1980’s the dock moth was released onto 170,000 plants, spread across 150 sites in the South West of Western Australia.

The release was part of a national program run in partnership between the (then) Department of Agriculture Western Australia and the Meat Research Corporation.

This partnership led to the establishment of the dock moth across South Australia, New South Wales, and  Victoria, with follow on releases in Western Australia.

What is dock?

Broadleaf Dock weed

Broadleaf dock an invasive agricultural weed .    – Image via Victorian Resources Online

There are a few different types of dock with broadleaf dock, recognisable for its broad green leaves, flowering from September to January.

Each plant can produces up to 60,000 seeds which germinate in Autumn and Spring. The fruit can be spread via water and can stick to wool, fur and clothing, it is often also spread through contaminated hay and grain products.

Although established, the weed is sensitive to competition as seedlings. Control options can include cultivation for seedlings, broadleaf selective herbicides in grass based pastures, or blanket wiping with glyphosate in meadow pastures containing legumes.

Characteristics of the dock moth

Characteristics of the dock moth –

  • Wasp like in appearance with narrow clear wings and bright colours.
  • Females are 15mm long with distinctive black, white and orange bands, yellow legs with orange and black antennae.
  • Males are smaller at 12mm with yellow-brown bodies, yellow legs and dark antennae.
  • Males have a tuft of scales at the base of the abdomen that resembles a fan.
  • Larvae feed on the roots of the dock plants and can grow up to 25mm long.
  • Larvae are never seen above the ground, and have a shiny body and a brown head.
  • The dock moth has a life cycle of one year, with most of the time spent as larvae in the root of a dock plant.
  • The long life cycle of the dock moth means it spreads relatively slowly.
  • Docks were popular wild edibles during the Depression due to their tart, lemony flavour.

 

dock moth

 

 

A male dock moth note the fan shaped tuft of scales at the end of the abdomen

 

 

 

 

Dock moth larvae

 

 

A dock moth larvae, they are never seen above ground.

 

 

 

Images sourced via the dock moth information page on the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) website.

Catch 22

It’s a catch 22 if you see this moth, it only thrive in areas with mature healthy dock plants.

When the moth becomes established the dock plants die off during late Spring and Summer. This is due to the moth larvae eating out the plants roots while it is dormant.

During the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) consultation events for the proposed Pest Rate landholders kept mentioning the nuisance weed dock.

Even though dock may be around the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) haven’t received a report of a dock moth over the last 12 months.

So we want to know if you have.

 

If you see an insect, or plant, and your not sure of the identification you can report it using the MyPestGuide reporting tool. An Officer from PaDIS will get back to you in 48 hours  with identification, and if needed, control information.

Teele Hooper-Worrell from the PHBG says “I am now taking pictures of all the bugs I see! There are currently alerts out for the European wasp and the brown marmorated stink bug, so whenever I see an insect I don’t know, I send a report in. It’s true PaDIS get back to you in 48 hours as well”

 

The brown marmorated stink bug.

The brown marmorated stink bug.
Photo credit: Kristie Graham, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org (©2018 Kristie Graham, USDA ARS, Bugwood.org)

 

Want to see what people are reporting on? You can check out community reports on the MyPestGuide community website.

 

 

 

 

 

two rabbits by fence

Community and Biosecurity Group helps rabbit virus spread across the Peel Harvey

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) along with 17 enthusiastic and eager land managers across the Peel Harvey region released the calicivirus just before Christmas.

In an effort that resembled trying to get the whole family together on Christmas Day,  PHBG Officers coordinated the delivery of rabbit pellets that helped interested land managers setup a pre-feeding and monitoring program prior to the distribution of the inoculated pellets.

two rabbits by fence

The Christmas virus

On December the 22nd, the virus was mixed and then delivered to 17 different sites for distribution over the next 24 hours.

“It was an interesting time to be releasing a bio-control agent thats for sure” Teele Hooper-Worrell, the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group’s Communication Officer says ” Some of the landowners were asking for dead rabbits as Christmas presents!  Many of the landowners involved with the release had already tried other control options without success.”

This release was the second of two coordinated by the PHBG in the Peel Harvey region in 2017.  The release of the RHDV1 K5 strain of the rabbit calicivirus is phase one of a 20 year rabbit biocontrol strategy.

The second release was planned in summer when common vectors, flies and mosquitos, are numerous and effective at spreading the virus. The Calicivirus can be spread up to 4km from an initial release site. If there are dead rabbits at a release site you can help to spread the virus yourself by moving the dead rabbit to a different active rabbit area. 

A biocontrol option is not the silver bullet and follow-up is necessary to maintain the control results over a longer period of time. Follow-up actions include fumigation and/or destruction of warrens, and follow up baiting. Studies have shown that these techniques not only remove rabbits entirely from an area but can also avoid re-population for up to 5 years.

 

Success

Release sites have already started to report dead rabbits from Cardup to Harvey.

Landowners are also actively sharing dead rabbits to enable the further spread of the virus – well, it is the season for giving

Rabbits Vs RHDV1 K5 Virus – Round two

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is coordinating a second release of the RHDV1 K5 Virus in the Peel region. The group will also be hosting a Rabbit Control Workshop to educate landowners on follow up management options, such as warren destruction and baiting, that can extend the effectiveness of the virus release.

Since the first recorded release of rabbits in 1859 wild rabbits have colonised most of Australia and occur in high numbers in many areas.

 

two rabbits by fence

Since the first recorded release of rabbits in 1859 wild rabbits have colonised most of Australia and occur in high numbers in many areas. Even if the density of rabbits is low, it can be enough to stop the regeneration of native vegetation. This is a key threatening process for some native plant species. Rabbits often out graze native animals and are attributed to the extinction of several small ground dwelling mammals.  Wild rabbits also cost the Australian Agricultural industry over 200 million a year in lost productivity.

The Centre for Invasive Species has outlined the rabbit problem for Australia in this short video which can be found on the Pest Smart website.

 

 

Early this year phase one of a 20 year rabbit biocontrol strategy was implemented with the release of the RHDV1 K5 strain of the rabbit calicivirus. It is important to note that RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus; it is a Korean variant of the existing (Czech) virus already widespread in Australia.

The virus was released by accredited personnel across 550 sites in Australia. Initial monitoring has suggested an average decline of 42% with anecdotal reports suggesting higher mortality in some areas.

A second coordinated release of RHDV1 K5 is planned in the southwest of Western Australia towards the end of 2017. Timing is critical with flies being a main vector for the spread of the virus. It is also helpful if green feed is depleted at the time of the release – under these conditions rabbits are more likely to take the oats or carrots that have been inoculated with the virus.

With this timeframe in mind, it is important that rabbit owners speak to their local vet to determine the best timing for vaccination, and what additional safeguards can be put in place. No precautions or interventions are required for native animals or livestock, and it poses no risk to human health.

A biocontrol option is not the silver bullet and follow-up is necessary to maintain the control results over a longer period of time. Follow-up actions include fumigation and/or destruction of warrens, and follow up baiting. Studies have shown that these techniques not only remove rabbits entirely from an area but can also avoid re-population for up to 5 years.

wild rabbit workshop image

 

  The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is dedicated to educating landholders on the management of declared pests such as rabbits. The group will be hosting a rabbit control workshop on Thursday December 7th , 2017 .

The workshop will showcase on-ground control techniques. Landowners can talk to experience contractors on different services available. They will also have the opportunity to network with other landholders to foster a community wide approach to rabbit control.

To express your interest in becoming a release site for the rabbit calicivirus, or to register for the rabbit control workshop, please email comms.phbg@gmail.com   

 

A picture of a branch affected by the disease myrtle rust

Whats the Fuss About Myrtle Rust?

The latest plant biosecurity news is summarised in the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre’s (PBCRC)  The Leaflet. The latest edition was packed full of information on the disease called myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii). Read on to find out what really is the fuss behind myrtle rust.

A picture of a branch affected by the disease myrtle rust

Suspect myrtle rust symptoms should be reported to the Pest and Disease Information Service (Emergency Plant Pest Hotline) on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

The Australian Myrtaceae family of plants, including eucalypts, tea tree and paperbark, and associated plant industries are under threat from a devastating disease called myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii). Myrtle rust was introduced in 2010 and was detected for the first time in Australia on the central coast of New South Wales. With the wind-borne nature of the disease and the abundance of suitable plant hosts in the Australian environment, the disease spread rapidly and is now considered established and widespread along the entire east coast of Australia. The disease is very effective at spreading  making it a threat to the health of Western Australian native species.

What is Myrtle rust?

Dr Geoff Pegg from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is the PBCRC myrtle rust expert,  in the following video he provides some interesting insights into this devastating disease and the research that is building knowledge to help affected industries.

Myrtle rust threatens Australian Industry-

The latest edition of The Leaflet outlined three main industries effected by Myrtle rust.

  1. The $800 million production nursery industry is an important part of the Australian economy and is vital for supporting a range of other industries such as fruit and vegetables. Myrtle rust has already damaged the nursery and garden industry significantly, with immediate restrictions on interstate trade following detection and the removal of popular commercial varieties of plants that are highly susceptible to the disease. Some states still maintain trade restrictions from areas where the disease is present.
  2. The forest industry contributes over $20 billion of economic turnover each year and employs over 70,000 people (ABARES, 2014). While initially considered a significant risk to the forestry industry, impacts to date have fortunately been minimal with reports of the disease restricted to minor damage in young eucalypt plantations in New South Wales (Carnegie, 2015) and Queensland (Pegg, unpublished).
  3. The developing lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) industry has been one of the hardest hit by the disease. Lemon myrtle leaves contain oil with the highest citral content of any known plant in the world – citral is the lemony aroma compound used for its citrus effect. The leaves are dried and milled for use in teas or as a spice and steam distillation is used to extract the essential oil from the leaf material, which can then be used as food flavouring, in aromatherapy products, cosmetics and toiletries. In 2012, production of lemon myrtle was estimated to be between 575 and 1,100 tonnes of leaf and 3 to 8 tonnes of oil, with a farm gate value of between $7 and $23 million.

Overview of the lemon myrtle industry

Lemon myrtle leaves contain the highest amount of citral, more than 90 per cent, of any plant in the world- it has been described as ‘lemonier than lemon’!

The leaves are dried and milled for use in teas or as a spice. Steam distillation is used to extract the essential oil from the leaf material which can then be used as food flavouring, in aromatherapy products, cosmetics and toiletries.

In 2012, production of lemon myrtle was estimated to be between 575 and 1,100 tonnes of leaf, and three to eight tonnes of oil, with a farm gate value of between $7 and $23 million.

So how do we manage it?

The Australian lemon myrtle industry have been loosing out since the introduction of the disease in 2010. The Plant Biosecurity CRC are conducting research to help develop management strategies to reduce production losses from affected plants. Myrtle rust leads to to branch defoliation, dieback and stunted growth – yield losses can be to be up to 70 per cent. Production losses can be severe if the disease is left untreated.

Through a PBCRC research project with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), scientists are investigating how to manage the impact of myrtle rust – a disease that has the potential to cause widespread change in native plant species and impacts on the ecological communities they support. This research is being led by Dr Suzy Perry and Dr Geoff Pegg from QDAF, with significant support from Dr Angus Carnegie (NSW DPI). The research project Managing myrtle rust and its impact in Australia is investigating myrtle rust management options for industry and the impact on native ecosystems. This research hopes to finalise a nationally standardised myrtle rust rating system for a range of myrtaceous species growing under different environmental conditions which will enable affected stakeholders to better manage myrtle rust and its consequences in Australia.

For further information on the project take a look at – Managing myrtle rust and its impact in Australia, Further information: Dr Geoff Pegg, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Participants: NSW Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

A poster warning New Zealand residents to keep a look out for myrtle rust

Even New Zealand residents are asked to keep a look out for the disease.

Keeping myrtle rust out of Western Australia-

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) gives these tips for managing the biosecurity risk of myrtle rust-

Bush walkers and home gardeners are likely to be the first people to find myrtle rust if it enters WA. Naturalists are invaluable as “eyes on the ground” but are also those most likely to inadvertently bring this disease into WA.

Wind disperses myrtle rust spores but wind alone is unlikely to carry them across the desert which separates WA from the eastern states. However, the tiny spores are highly transportable and can stick to clothing, hats, footwear, vehicles and equipment. Consequently anyone who visits NSW, Victoria or Queensland and then returns to WA should take the following precautions:

  • If travelling by road, shake out floor mats, wash down tyres and check that the vehicle, caravan, trailer and any gardening equipment contain no plant material. Do this before leaving NSW, Victoria or Queensland and do it again before crossing the border back into Western Australia. The reason for performing the first clean-up is that if any spores are accidentally transported even a short distance into other states they could allow myrtle rust to become established further westward and, consequently, begin the spread of the disease towards WA.
  • If possible, change into fresh clothing and footwear before re-entering WA and pack away the attire that was worn in NSW and Queensland. Once home, wash everything that was used on the trip.
  • Rail and domestic airline passengers are reminded that any plant material or items contaminated by soil are prohibited entry into WA. If friends or relatives from eastern Australia are planning to visit WA please pass on this advice.

More information on the DPIRD website about myrtle rust can be found here.

Anyone who finds what they suspect is myrtle rust should ring the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) on Freecall: 1800 084 881 to report the location. If possible take a photograph and email it to info@agric.wa.gov.au.

Symptoms can also be reported through the MyPestGuide reporter app or by making an online report.

Do not take a sample to post to the Pest and Disease Information Service, because snipping off a piece of diseased plant could dislodge the spores and accelerate the local spread of myrtle rust.

Free offer … traps to identify what insects lurk in your pantry

 

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) are calling for citizen scientists to register for Western Australia’s second Pantry Blitz.

The Pantry Blitz is a biosecurity initiative designed to uncover what type of exotic pests might be hiding in people’s kitchens.

 

Tribolium castaneum

Tribolium castaneum collected in a grain storage lab

Volunteers who register their interest will be mailed free insect traps to place in their pantries. Once a week, between the 12 August and the 9 September, each participant will photograph any insects that appear in their traps and report findings using the MyPestGuide Reporter app. Entomologists at DPIRD will identify the insects from photographs and report back to volunteers about their findings.

Registrations for Pantry Blitz are currently open. Packages, containing traps and instructions, will be mailed to registered participants. People are encouraged to sign up online via the Pantry Blitz webpage.

Sitophilus-oryzae-adults.

adult Sitophilus oryzae

Pantry Blitz is a key activity of the department’s Boosting Biosecurity Defences project and is supported by National Science Week and Royalties for Regions.

Key URLS and resources:

  1. Pantry Blitz 2017 page – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/biosecurity/pantry-blitz-2017
  1. Sign up to participate – https://confirmsubscription.com/h/j/6B163C3AB6347789
  1. Social media handles – Twitter: DAF_WA and Facebook: @DepartmentofAgricultureandFoodWA
  1. Social media hashtag: #PantryBlitz17

MyPestGuide Links

MyPestGuide website – https://mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au/

MyPestGuide Reporter – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/apps/mypestguide-reporter

MyPestGuide family of apps – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/biosecurity/mypestguide-suite

Mobile app centre – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/appcentre

Boosting biosecurity defences project – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/invasive-species/e-surveillance-pests-and-diseases-wa-grains-industry

MyPestGuide Reporter Download Links

Apple App Store –

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/mypestguide-reporter/id1032560930?mt=8

Android Google Play Store -https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.agric.mpg.reporter&hl=en

National Science Week – 12-20 August

NSW logos https://www.scienceweek.net.au/get-involved/graphics-logos/

NSW front page https://www.scienceweek.net.au

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

July edition of Backyard Buddies released

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development release a monthly guide to animal and plant pests, diseases and weeds. The July edition of Backyard Buddies focuses on preventing weeds by using mulch in your garden.

The header promting the Backyard Buddies Newsletter

Winter rains are building up moisture levels within the soil; aiding absorption of the nutrients and minerals needed to ensure a healthy plant. Weed seeds are also benefiting from this rain as it helps to provide the optimal conditions for weed germination.

The secret to successful and cost-effective weed control is to strike early, and nothing is earlier than prevention. So it’s important to implement weed management practices in your garden and understand the importance of using clean mulch from a reputable source.

Mulch is commonly used as a protective layer to maintain soil moisture by minimising evaporation. Mulch also prevents weeds by limiting the light required for weed establishment. However, contaminated mulch and the incorrect use of mulch can introduce new weeds into your garden or encourage existing weeds to germinate.

Ask questions of mulch suppliers or retailers to help avoid purchasing mulch contaminated with weed seeds.  Mulch that has not reached the optimal temperature required to kill most weed seeds, is not frequently turned or is left uncovered, poses a risk of weed contamination.

Composted mulch or mulch containing large quantities of plant debris and soil are not effective at weed suppression.  These act more like a soil they can compact and retain water; providing the perfect conditions for weeds to germinate and prosper.

If looking to suppress weeds, choose coarser mulch.  This is commonly made from chunks of wood or bark, and applied up to 4 inches deep.

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

You can also help protect your garden and our State by reporting suspicious or unusual weeds that pop up after fertilising or applying mulch to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional

Development (Previously the Department of Agriculture and Food WA) using our free mobile app MyWeedWatcher, or report via the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service by calling 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

A picture of a hand holding a phone showing the MyWeedWatcher App

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Global invader controlled by kero concoction

Robinia pseudoacacia L. (black locust) is recognized as a global invader due to its ability to colonise areas quickly, produce lots of seeds, and produce suckers when disturbed. It’s ability to fix nitrogen in the soil allows Robinia to spread into low quality soils, once used to reclaim disturbed sites, the plant is now recognized as a weed on most continents. Many gardeners plant Robinia species because of their golden appearance and large colourful flowers, however these species are grafted onto black locust root stock which produce thorny suckers when the roots are disturbed. These suckers can even pop up into neighboring yards 15m away causing disputes, some of which has led to civil action.

A picture of a robinia tree with white flowers

 

Don Burke, of Burke’s Backyard, lists the global invader Robinia as one of the trees gardeners will regret they planted!

Control Options-

Robinia suckers can pop up vigorously after soil disturbance with sharp thorns that can make removal even harder.
The Ask Sabrina section of The Weekend West advised that a concoction of 200ml of blackberry and tree killer mixed with one teaspoon of kerosene painted on to the cut sucker immediately, is very effective. Hard-to-kill plants such as oleander and tree of heaven are also susceptible.

Website Herbiguide give this control advice “Cut down the tree and paint the stump with neat glyphosate to reduce regrowth and suckering. Spray regrowth and suckers when they are about 500 mm tall with glyphosate. It re grows vigorously from cut roots and stumps and these sprouts need to be removed continually to exhaust the root system. Access, Grazon and metsulfuron are worth a trial.”

The Meat and Livestock Association of Australia rates Robinia as moderately  palatable for goats in their handbook titled Weed control using goats- a guide to using goats for weed control in pastures. Giving a chemical free option for weed control.

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Heath Benefits?

According to some the black locust has some health benefits and parts of the tree can be used for different therapeutic uses. Infusions  can help burning in the stomach, and with fatigue and nervousness. The flowers can apparently help with wounds and burns- this could be helpful after attempting the removal of thorny suckers.

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

European House Borer

Blocking Borer

Home remedies can be effective, safe and a cheap way to control pests around the home. Passed down from generation to generation these recipes can be pure gold! This week we have looked at a home remedy for Borer.

This home remedy is from the Ask Sabrina section in the West Weekend.

Borer home remedy-

Myrtle writes- I have a home remedy for treating borer that has worked on a lemon-scented gum tree and a local wattle, based on a treatment I’d read for an insect infestation on a grapefruit tree. I used 40 per cent vegetable oil, 20 percent detergent and the rest water, shaken vigorously in a handheld spray bottle. I squirted the mixture into the borer holes and almost immediately borers staggering out and died, presumably suffocated by the oil. Two years later, the lemon scented gum has no sign of the borers and the little holes have filled in. The wattle still had a few residual, but no sign of infestation.

An articel from teh Ask Sabrina section of the Weekend West paper.

 

Borer successfully attack stressed trees-

Stressed trees are weaker and have less defenses against insect such as borers. Healthy trees will often exude resin or kino to try and fight off the attackers. Telltale signs that a tree has borers include fresh exit holes in the timber, tunnels in the wood, bone dust, crumbling wood, dead beetles, adult beetles, eggs, and wood borer larvae. Borer can even disguise their holes using webbing and frass (secreted excreta of insects). Therefore a great way to treat early signs of borers is to improve the health of your tree. Have a look at the environment in which the tree resides, does it need more water or a tonic?

Common bores include; Pinhole Bores, House Longhorn Beetle, Powder Post Beetle, Common Furniture Beetle and Auger Beetles.

Borer pest to look out for-

The European House Borer (EHB) (Hylotrupes bajulus Linnaeus), is a destructive pest of untreated seasoned coniferous timber, such as pine, fir and spruce (Pinus, Abies, Picea, Araucaria and Pseudotsuga species). EHB can  cause major structural damage to buildings.

In Western Australia EHB has been found in susceptible dead trees, logs and living trees with dead wood (dried out damaged branches or trunks). Roof timbers, wall frames, flooring, architraves, door frames and timber articles such as pine furniture, shipping crates, pallets and transport supporting timber and frames can also be susceptible.

EHB has been detected several times previously in Australia but these infestations were eradicated by fumigation. In 2004 EHB was detected in Western Australia, and since then has been found in 60 Perth suburbs.

 

European House Borer

European House Borer Adult Beetle

European House Borer

Signs of European House Borer activity

 

Think you have an insect pest?

You can report pests online here using the MyPestGuide tool. Reports are quick and easy to do and you can include the exact location of the pest and photos as well. The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, aim to respond to reports in 48hrs.