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.

Pantry Blitz- Do you know what bugs you’re living with?

You are invited to take part in an exciting new citizen science activity to uncover the secret lives of the pests living inside your pantry cupboard. Register now for the Pantry Blitz!

Citizen Science- the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.

Participants will place a pest trap inside their pantry cupboard for one month and use the free reporting tool MyPestGuide to submit pest reports for identification. Participants must register to receive a free pest trap in the mail. Traps are placed inside the kitchen pantry then once a week for a month you send in your observations. This is a great activity for the kids (as well as adults) to learn about biosecurity and bugs! Recommended you register early for this fun activity as pest trap numbers are limited.

The data you collect will be used to keep Western Australia free from harmful exotic pests. Your reports can make a difference! When making a report you are in fact also helping to protect your local food producers, the people who manufacturer your food products and those employed to deliver and supply you with good quality foods.  So, partner up with the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA to help protect our food, environment and livelihoods from damaging pests by observing what’s in your household pantry and reporting what you see.

What sort of bugs are you looking for?

Pantry Blitz- Do you know what bugs you're living with?

Pantry Blitz – Watch out for the sweet potato weevil!

Of all the sweet potatoe pests this one is the worst!

The sweet potato weevil Cylas formicarius (Fabricius) causes damage in the field, in storage, and is of quarantine significance. It’s a pretty cool looking bug but can cause up to 97% damage where sweet potatoe is cultivated. Sometimes the first indication they are there is cutting open a sweet potatoe and finding tunnels and larvae. Recently a vigilant member of the community discovered this exotic pest after purchasing a bag of sweet potatoe from a local super market. The weevil was reported to the Department of Agriculture and Food via its biosecurity surveillance tool, MyPestGuide Reporter app (for the full story click here).

Pantry Blitz- Do you know what bugs you're living with?

Pantry Blitz – Keep a look out for the elephant weevil!

Watch the wine!

This cool looking bug  is commonly known as the elephant weevil, Orthorhinus cylindrirostris. In Australia they are considered a major pest to wine companies as it feeds on grape vines. It is a brown grey weevil with a long slender snout and long forelegs. When not at the winery the elephant weevil adults and larvae feed on eucalypts and a variety of other plants.

Register now!

You can make observations and send reports anytime using the ‘MyPestGuide” Reporter mobile app or via the online reporting webpage. Your reports will be received automatically by the MyPestGuide Team. Department of Agriculture and Food department experts will then identify the pests reported from your pantry, respond to each report and publish the community’s findings on the Pantry Blitz webpage. So don’t forget to keep checking to see your bugs on the webpage.

Rabbits: a costly pest

 Did you know that rabbits are Australian agriculture’s most costly pest animal? Annual costs exceed $200 million!

Pioneer Thomas Austin freed about a dozen rabbits on his property near Geelong, Victoria, in 1859 and by 1910 feral rabbits had covered  most of their present range. This spread was despite control efforts such as the Western Australian Government’s 1700 kilometer rabbit-proof fence, built between 1901 and 1907.

Were you aware that Australian native vegetation is very sensitive to rabbit damage? As few as 0.5 rabbits per hectare can remove all seedlings of the more palatable native trees and shrubs!

Rabbits have been attributed to the extinction of several small  ground-dwelling mammals in Australia’s arid lands and have contributed to the decline of many native plants and animals.

National Rabbit Roadshow

Attendees at the National Rabbit Roadshow

Attendees at the National Rabbit Roadshow hosted by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group.

People attending the National Rabbit Roadshow were highly impressed by the evidence presented by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and Victoria’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries. It was shown that methods for removing rabbits are generally well researched.

Poisoning, warren ripping and fumigation (when used in combination, rather than as a single treatment) can effectively control, and can even eradicate, the animal. This is particularly so when the methods are used at the right time of year to maximise their effectiveness.

Local landholder and Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group vice chair, Marion Lofthouse, left the event with a new perspective on rabbit control.

“I didn’t realise that an initial up-front investment in rabbit control, using a combination of methods, could provide a sustained effect over many, many years,” Mrs Lofthouse said. ‘Doing the job properly in the first place makes rabbit control a cost-effective farm practice in the longer term.”

Rabbits and their control

The rabbit- a declared pest.

The rabbit- a declared pest.

Are you interested in controlling rabbits on your own property? Perhaps you would prefer getting a group of landholders together for landscape-scale control?

Either way, get in touch with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group at info@peelharveybiosecurity.info. We can provide you with updates in this space, including the rollout of the bio-control agent, RHDV1 K5 across Australia.

 

Click here for more information.