Heads up from neighbour leads to cotton bush control.

All too often we hear the bad news about declared pests in our regions. Neighbouring properties, government land, and industry managed land gets the pointed finger, and for good reason.

Community pressure often leads to change.

However many people forget that a quick heads up and an offer of support can go a lot further.

In the Shire of Harvey, one neighbour approached another.

This neighbour had previously spent their own time and money trying to control a growing cotton bush infestation over the fence.

Cotton bush a weed that doesn’t respect property lines.

“It was very frustrating trying to control cotton bush that was re-infesting my property from an established problem over a fence. I was so relieved when my friendly heads up led to a massive effort by the new landowner to control and remove the cotton bush on his property,” the neighbour said.

The new landowner had unwittingly bought, along with his brand new patch of paradise, a long establish infestation of cotton bush.

The heads up was welcomed. The new landholder was unaware of the declared weed, cotton bush and its agricultural impacts, as well as the level of infestation on his own property.

“When I purchased my property I knew it had a cotton bush problem but I never really had any idea to how serious it was or could be,” said the landholder.

“Although I had the previous owner spray the cotton bush before purchasing, being late November the cotton bush had already seeded and though some were killed with the spraying, twice as much sprouted back up.

I received a call from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) around this time after my cotton bush infestation had been reported to them. The call really helped with the understanding of what is expected from property owners and the resources available to remove cotton bush.

I received enormous amounts of encouragement and information from them, notably the list and phone numbers of local spraying contractors and cotton bush removalists who you can pay to physically remove the weed.”

With help from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the new landowner set about creating a management plan that would see mature plants removed and emergent seedlings managed.

The new neighbour started by removing the mature cotton bush plants. Over 110 acres of matured plants were hand pulled and heaped together on central burn piles.

The cleared land was sprayed as new emergent seedlings popped up.

The new landowner has learnt a lot from the experience and has some timely advice as the cotton bush season draws closer.

The results from hand pulling was placed in a pile for burning in situ so as not to spread seeds.

“I know I will be pulling cotton bush for the next few years as it germinates, but it is far cheaper than spraying, and it really drives my passion to eradicate cottonbush from my farm” he said.

I feel a great sense of satisfaction to see how much work I have put in and the results are speaking for themselves.

If I were to hand on any advice that I have learned from my experience is to get onto it NOW. Cotton bush will get worse and require you to make more of an effort to remove if you leave it another weekend.

Talk to your neighbours, encourage them, help them get started, show them that it can be done because walking through a paddock pulling a few weeds can help you get to know them too.

Cotton bush is an unforgiving, plague-like weed that can easily defeat a person as fast as it spreads. Any  progress is progress and the best time to act is now because it’s only going to get worse if you leave it.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has control information for cotton bush on their website.

  • Mature plants with seed pods attached have the potential to spread seed and infest new areas when moved away from their original location and should be disposed of as close to the infestation as possible.
  • Larger infestations are best dealt with by a combination of spraying, slashing, burning and pasture management.
  • Burning heavy infestations of cotton bush is an effective, low cost option which damages seed on and near the soil surface. Make sure you check with your local fire and emergency coordinator or local government for burning advice and permits.
  • Slashing and burning must be followed up with herbicide treatment to control regrowth and seedlings.
  • Spraying with glyphosate mixed with metsulfuron-methyl is very effective in controlling larger cotton bush plants and is best applied by a high volume hand lead sprayer.
  • Plants should be sprayed until the leaves are wet, almost to the point that liquid is running off.
  • Herbicide control is best done when the plant is actively growing from September to May.

Cotton bush infestations can be reported by emailing or phoning the Pest and Diseases Information Service (PaDIS) or contacting the PHBG directly on comms.phbg@gmail.com

Cotton bush

Collaboration leads to increased control of declared weed in the Peel Harvey region

There is a lot of industry and government managed land in the Peel Harvey Region. It is really encouraging to see some taking steps towards controlling the weeds that occur on their land.

Three good needs stories were highlighted by the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development at the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group’s Annual General Meeting.

There is a lot of industry-owned land in the Peel-Harvey Region and some industry bodies are taking steps to control the weeds that occur on their land.

Three good news stories were highlighted at the 2017 PHBG general meeting by DPIRD.

Mature cotton bush plants can produce over 300 seeds per pod that are easily spread.

Alcoa

After the Waroona fire ALCOA had a massive cleanup job ahead. Even so DPIRD has reported that 100% of areas highlighted through consultation with the community, PHBG, and DPIRD were sprayed by the company voluntarily.

Watercorp

Through collaboration, Watercorp and DPIRD have worked together to develop a brand new process for identifying cotton bush infestations.

Using this new process highlighted areas have been actioned with follow up control planned throughout 2018.

Water Corporation and DPIRD continue to consult and work together on cotton bush control around their infrastructure.

Water Corporation South West Regional Manager, John Janssen, said the Region’s maintenance schedule targeted areas prone to invasive weeds.

“We take our responsibility as a landowner very seriously when it comes to controlling invasive weeds such as cotton bush.

“We collaboratively work together with all of our neighbours to ensure we get maximum results in weed control and prevent any weeds from spreading.”

Weed spraying equipment being used by WaterCorp to spray cotton bush problem areas highlighted using new process in partnership with DPIRD.

ARC Infrastructure

Formerly Brookfield Rail, ARC Infrastructure manages the rail reserves from the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale through the Murray and Waroona Shires, into Harvey.

Through consultation with the community, PHBG, and DPIRD, ARC Infrastructure have incorporated reported cotton bush problem areas into their spraying program.

 

Arc Infrastructure Officers assessing and spraying weeds along the rail corridor.

Vaughn Byrd Chairperson of the PHBG has seen the result of this spraying with patches of dead plants along the railway reserve. He views it as an initial step to controlling the outbreaks of these weeds.

“The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group values their relationship with the community, industry and local government. Being able to work together to highlight problem areas and focus efforts on them is invaluable,” He said.

“It really is amazing what can happen when everyone works together. We still have a long way to go but with these efforts continuing into the future land managers can start to move onto additional problem areas.”

Have you got a story about declared pests?

Contact the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and join the conversation, email comms.phbg@gmail.com

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group Banner

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

consultation dates list

Biosecurity Group Opens Proposed Pest Rate Consultation in Mundijong

There was some great conversations between landowners and Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) at the first public consultation for the proposed declared pest rate.

 

Pest Rate Consultation events list

 

A few larger landholders were concerned that landholders would be charged at a proportion of the unimproved value of their land (i.e. ad valorem). They were relieved to find out the charge would be a flat rate, and it would be fixed (i.e. not vary according to property size).

 

 

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group believe in a community wide approach to pest management and believe that a small flat/fixed rate for properties one hectare and above is fair. Controlling declared pests sustains the economic, environmental and amenity values of an area, protecting the reasons landholders chose to live there in the first place.

 

Landholders were encouraging towards education and engagement of the community. Many landholders who are committed to controlling pest animals and plants find trouble arises through shared property boundaries with absentee landholders and new lifestyle block owners. Many times a positive heads up with some help to find resources and to know where to start is all that is needed. The PHBG is committed to providing resources, support, and educational events to help landholders in the region learn about effective control options that are available.

 

 

The Peel Harvey region is large and covers many different land uses. This means pest priorities can change across the landscape.  While someone in Harvey may be focused on cotton bush, a resident in Serpentine may be most concerned about foxes. As a community based group with committee members from each Local Government Area the PHBG understands the complexities of declared pest management across the region. The PHBG is happy to discuss with landowners how the proposed pest rate can benefit them, as well as their community.

 

While it may be frustrating to think of the proposed declared pest rate as another ‘tax’ a landholder has to pay, realistically there is no secured, ongoing funding for the control of established declared pests. The big positive is for every dollar that a landholder contributes, the State Government will match it. All funds will be used specifically in the Peel Harvey region on declared pests, according to an operational budget that is approved annually.

 

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group has more consultation events planned across the Peel Harvey region – you can look on the PHBG website or Facebook page for more information. Alternatively you can email questions to comms.phbg@gmail.com.

The MedFly

Fruit fly underdone in homemade recipes-

Fruit fly is a major agricultural pest in Western Australia. Mediterranean fruit fly more commonly known as the Med Fly is a major problem for commercial orchardists and landholders.

Fruit fly attacks a large range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Historically, fruit fly was,  controlled with the use of a pesticide called Fenthion- this was controversially banned in 2015. Fenthion was used to reduce the effect of the Med Fly on WA growers while also providing a tool to prevent the insurgence of the Queesland Fruit Fly (also given a nickname, QFly).

The Qfly lands in Perth-

In late 2015, five Perth Suburbs were quarantined after eight QFly males were caught in surveillance traps. Costing the Department of Agriculture and Food hundreds of thousands of dollars the five affected suburbs were restricted in the movement of fresh fruits and vegetables until the all clear was given. Now Tasmania and South Australia are the only states to have the clear QFly status and the implications for trade with WA is still unknown.

This large output of energy and resources goes to show the seriousness of even a small outbreak of eight flies can be and the effort DAFWA puts into biosecurity to prevent the spread of pests.

Now that Fenthion has been banned in the control of fruit fly there are many different homemade recipes available to help landowners monitor and control fruit fly in their area.

Homemade traps for fruit fly control-

The simple traps below can be made with ingredients and equipment found easily in the home, check out everydayroots.com for more traps ideas.

Don’t forget to use the Pest App from DAFWA to ID any bugs caught!

 

 The Apple Cider Trap- Fruit flies can’t resist the smell of fermentation, and since apple cider vinegar is from fermented apples, it’s a dream drink to them. Heat the vinegar beforehand to release more of its irresistible fragrance.

fruit fly trap made from a paper funnel, jar and apple cider vinegar

This apple cider vinegar trap lure fruit flies in.

 

Equipment-

A mason jar or something similar, a funnel (you can make one yourself), ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, a drop of dish washing soap, and a piece of ripe or overripe fruit (optional).

Heat up the apple cider vinegar and pour into your jar. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to break up the surface of the liquid and prevent the flies from sitting on the surface. Roll up a piece of paper to make a funnel and place it in the top of the jar, the flies will follow the funnel down but won’t be able to find their way out and will drown. If you find the flies aren’t drowning you can place the whole trap in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until the flies have died.  You can either replicate the trap or continue to use the same one.

 

The Jar Type Trap- Use the fruit flies weakness to lure then in – fermenting fruit

fruit fly trap made from ripe fruit in a jar with plastic wrap with hols poked in.

Everyday kitchen items make a handy fruit fly trap.

Equipment- A glass jar, plastic wrap, a toothpick, some very ripe or overripe produce, and some soapy water.

Put your rotting and/or very ripe fruit in the bottom of a jar. Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap, secure with a rubber band, and poke holes in the plastic using a toothpick. Put the traps in places fruit flies are congregating and when the trap is full you can submerge in hot soapy water or place in the freezer.

Community responsibility in fruit fly control-

With the new restrictions on pesticides, growers are now at the mercy of good husbandry from landowners in the control of fruit fly. To help reduce fruit fly residents can remove ripening fruit and pick up fallen fruit around trees.

Don’t forget burying ripening fruit does not control fruit fly as the larvae can still emerge from the soil.

For more species or control information on the fruit fly visit the Department of Food and Agriculture website here.

Bush Rangers quiz PHBG on weeds

On the 31st May 2016 Jonelle Cleland , Executive Officer of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, held a two hour weeds workshop at Waroona District High School with the Bushranger Cadets.

Bush Rangers WA is a youth-based conservation and community development program run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. It supports young Western Australians to take an active role in the conservation of the natural environment and better understand the mechanisms for its management.

Below are some of the questions asked by the Bush Rangers about weeds-

What are weeds and how did they get here?

The Australia Government defines a weed as:

A weed is any plant that requires some form of action to reduce its effect on the economy, the environment, human health and amenity. Weeds are also known as invasive plants. Many plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years are now weeds.

A weed can be an exotic species or a native species that colonises and persists in an ecosystem in which it did not previously exist. Weeds can inhabit all environments; from our towns and cities through to our oceans, deserts and alpine areas.Some weeds are of particular concern and, as a result, have been listed for priority management or in legislation.

How do you get rid of weeds?

Unfortunately there isn’t one recipe for weed control, how much easier would that make weed management! Luckily however there are lots of resources available that provides specific information on a weed you may be having trouble with. These include the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, Herbiguide, and of course your regional Biosecurity Group can answer your queries on weed control.

How do they spread?

Weeds typically produce large numbers of seeds, assisting their spread. They are often excellent at surviving and reproducing in disturbed environments and are commonly the first species to colonise and dominate in these conditions. There are lots of different ways plants use to help their seeds spread. Some plants use animals to move their seeds this is called animal dispersal. Seeds dispersed by animals are usually barbed or sticky and stick to an animal as it brushes past, or they are yummy so an animal eats them or stores them in their burrows. Other weeds use wind dispersal to spread, their seeds usually have wings or other hair or feather-like structures, and they produce lots of them. There are also plants that use water to move their seeds, these are mostly aquatic plants or plants that live near water.

Water Hyacinth, a declared weed, clogging up a waterway

Water hyacinth is one of the worlds worst aquatic seeds and can double its mass in five days. It spreads on water using floating seeds and growth from new stems called stolons.

Blackberry, a declared weed, growing on a hillside

The blackberry is a declared pest in WA and is spread through fruit eating mammals and birds. Each single berry can contain 20-30 seeds.

Cotton bush seeds are small and feathery

Cotton bush is a declared pest and spreads on the wind using its small feathery seeds.

 

How do they get their names?

A plants scientific name is made made up of its genus and specific name for example blackberry Rubus fruticosus– Rubus (genus) fruticosus (specific). A plants common name generally arises from the local name for that plant and can be descriptive. Some examples of common names include the blackberry, cotton bush, nut grass and onion weed.

Can they kill humans?

The short answer is yes some weeds are toxic to humans. Weeds, like many plants, can be poisonous when consumed or create allergic reactions when brushed up against. Some weeds are especially dangerous because they have brightly coloured berries that are attractive to young children. Many more weeds are toxic to livestock as they are more likely to consume them in the paddock or in hay if it is baled up in an infested area.

A short list of weeds that can be toxic include- apple of sodom, blackberry nightshade, cotton bush, deadly nightshade, thornapple, lantana, cape tulip, and arum lily.

The best way to find out if a plant on your property is a weed and/or toxic is to use the MyWeedWatcher App to I.D your weed and find out the weeds specifications and correct management options available.

There isn’t a way to tell from looking at a plant if its poisonous or not. Be on the safe side and wear long sleeves and pants if playing in weedy areas and don’t put them in your mouth!

How do you identify them?

There are lots of resources available in identifying weeds including the internet, books and now Apps!

Bush Rangers Quiz PHBG on weeds

DAFWA’s new MyWeedWatcher App can help you identify weeds.

How do you stop weeds from coming back?

There are some weeds that have seeds that can be viable for longer than 10 years, which means that one weed control application often wont be enough. Some weeds are best controlled using chemical methods, some can be controlled by mowing or slashing, some need to be physically removed or even burnt. The best ways to ensure success is to correctly identify your weed so you can control it in the most effective way, for example to effectively spray nut grass you must spray it before it forms its 6th leaf to ensure the chemical is taken into its underground node, that’s very specific!

Before commencing weed control its important to have a plan so you don’t waste time and money. The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group has a Weed Management Plan booklet that can help you plan out your weed control efforts in advance, find it here to download.

Bush Rangers quiz PHBG on weeds

 

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group was excited to host the workshop for the  at Waroona DHS Bush Rangers program and hope to work with them again in the future on protecting their local area from declared pests and weeds. If you would like more information on Bush Rangers WA then follow this link.