There’s a little something out there that’s earning a good reputation by destroying a plant we know all too well in the Burnett. The little critter is called the tingid bug and is causing strife for the Cats Claw Creeper in our riparian areas.
Cats Claw Creeper (Macfadyena unguis-cati) has this amazing feature where it can attach itself to just about anything and quickly grow to smother it. The little claws near its leaf base are a sure way to correctly identify this weed species that has been declared as a class 3 weed under the State’s Land Protection Act.
Apart from being an eyesore, and overgrowing native trees and shrubs, the problem is that it can weaken the root system of those tall standing trees and allow them to fall during a flood event, and expose the soil beneath to be quickly washed away.
Left: Cats Claw Creeper with the biocontrol agent, the tingid bug, working to damage the weed’s foliage.
But now its bon voyage to this pesky plant! It’s mortal enemy, the tingid bug, is the size of a sandfly and has been effective in its first release in the Central Burnett by BCCA. The bug is a form of biological control released by Biosecurity Queensland at the end of last year and it works by eating away the chlorophyll in the leaves to weaken the plant. In doing this, it means biocontrol can play a very important role in pest management when used correctly and integrated with other control methods.
BCCA staff have been monitoring the success of this first release and hope that the second release will be just as sucessful.
If you’d like to know more about the biocontrol agent, search for Cats Claw Creeper Biocontrol on the web at www.dpi.qld.gov.au