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.

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.

Cotton bush

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group helps landowners remove and dispose of cotton bush.

On Wednesday 20th April officers from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG), Jonelle Cleland and Teele Hooper-Worrell, helped a local landowner pull out some cotton bush plants. It is important that landowners know the correct way to remove and dispose of cotton bush.  Jonelle Cleland, Executive Officer from the PHBG noted that ‘After removing the green seed pods and placing them straight in a bin bag we were able to pull out the mature plants easily from the soil’. Cotton bush is a declared weed and you are not allowed to simply throw the waste in the bin or put it out on your verge for green waste pickup. You must dispose of the seeds effectively, otherwise they are still viable and can spread to another area.

A great way to prevent the spread of the weed is to use solarisation to kill off the active seeds, with the added benefit of composting some lovely soil for your paddocks or garden beds. Solarisation uses the heat of the sun’s rays to literally cook plants, weed seeds, nematodes, insects, and soil pathogens (the “bad guy” fungi, and bacteria that bring diseases to plants) which occur in the top layer of your soil. It also makes nutrients more available to plants later grown in solarised soil.

Below are some steps for successfully solarising cotton bush plants and seeds you have pulled up on your property.

How to remove and dispose of cotton bush.

How to remove cotton bush

Woman removing cotton bush

Jonelle Cleland Executive Officer for the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group removes cotton bush.

Step 1- If the weed has active pods growing carefully remove and place straight into a bin bag to reduce the spread of the wind borne seeds.

Step 2- pull up the mature plants and stack in an out the way area, on top of an existing compost pile is suitable.

Cotton bush after being removed.

Correctly dispose of cotton bush seeds by placing the seeds in a plastic bag.

How to dispose of cotton bush

 

Step 3 – Place plastic bags of seeds in the sun and leave for a few weeks. After the seeds have been cooked the bags can be placed into the bin.

Step 4- Source some thick clear plastic and spread over your mature plants/ and or seeds and weigh down with rocks or bricks. As an alternative you can use black pond liner but it won’t be as quick. Be careful of snakes that may find refuge underneath the plastic.

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Officers with Serpentine-Jarrahdale landowner with pile of cotton bush.

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Officers with Serpentine-Jarrahdale landowner after being show how to correctly remove and dispose of cotton bush.

Solarisation will occur more quickly in summer, in summer you can use the soil after 5 weeks while in winter you may want to leave the plastic on until the weather starts to warm up.

cotton bush before spraying

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and community team up against declared weed

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Before and after Cotton Bush control

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, DAFWA and the communities in the Peel region have rallied to control the declared weed cotton bush. 

The group is made up of landholders and local government representatives and stakeholders. Heavy infestations recorded by the group help to define target areas that DAFWA use to direct their compliance process. During 2015 DAFWA Issued 14 compliance notices which were all complied with quickly, and many more reports are of individual property owners initiating weed control.

Cotton bush is spread easily on the wind, with each mature plant producing hundreds of wind borne seeds. Property owners are required under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) to control declared weeds or risk compliance, and have a responsibility to their neighbours to ensure cotton bush isn’t spreading from their property.

Marion Lofthouse a committee member for the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is passionate about controlling cottonbush and says “The seeds from 3 seed pods will turn into 300 more new plants. The more cotton bush plants we can pull out or spray before seed set in summer, the sooner we can break the seed cycle!”
The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group can help property owners set up a weed management plan for their properties and give advice on control methods. You can check the group out on Facebook or email on info@peelharveybiosecurity.info.