They might be ugly, but Brisbane City Council has made some unlikely allies in the war against pests, deploying weevils, beetles and wasps to help keep invasive species under control.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Council has developed a reputation as a national leader in using natural pest control methods instead of toxic chemicals.
“We know that your enemy’s enemy is your friend and in this case it’s weevils, wasps and beetles that are helping look after our native vegetation,” Cr Schrinner said.
“While the thought of weevils is enough to make anyone squirm, they’ve become a hero in our mission to rid waterways of noxious weeds.
“Our biocontrol facility in Durack, is breeding four weevil species that feast on, and help eliminate, aquatic weeds that choke our waterways, including the problematic Salvinia weed,” Cr Schrinner said.
“This program has become so successful we’ve partnered with New South Wales Department of Primary Industries to exchange our weevils for southern-bred jewel beetles, which help keep invasive vine weeds at bay.
Council is also launching a trial using a tiny native wasp to wipe out looper moths which are destroying Brisbane’s more than 19,000 poinciana trees.
“These wasps are about quarter the size of a pinhead, but they pack a punch on the pests. They lay their eggs in looper moth eggs, this prevents the moth egg from turning into a caterpillar.
“We’re trialling these wasps in Ascot and Hendra, using Clayfield as a ‘control’ suburb.”
Environment, Parks and Sustainability Chair Fiona Cunningham said a world-first cane toad trap, developed by James Cook University, is helping Council tackle the toxic amphibians. by mimicking their calls.
“Queensland isn’t named the ‘Cane Toads’ in State of Origin for no reason, they pose a severe threat to our ecosystem,” Cr Cunningham said.
“These traps lure in cane toads by mimicking their calls. In February this year we had a month-long trial and caught 245 cane toads using these new traps, compared to zero using standard cane toad traps. The lure traps are now used on Moreton Island to help preserve its cane-toad free status.”
“We also use “rat dogs” as part of our rodent control team. This program has celebrated 120-years since first using dogs to detect plague-carrying rats in 1900.”
For more information about Council’s biocontrol programs, visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au.