Eastern EP Opuntia control success

News article |

A range of Opuntia species have been successfully targeted in the Eastern Eyre Peninsula area through the release of a biocontrol agent.

Landscape officers in the Eastern Eyre peninsula have yet again been busy spreading biocontrol for a host of different Opuntia species – a priority weed for Eyre Peninsula. Every year as the weather begins to warm, the control agent of cochineal beetles become active which means its spreading time!

The most abundant Opuntia species throughout the Cleve region is Indian Fig with control – by infecting it with the cochineal beetle – proving very effective on all plants along the Birdseye highway between Cowell and Cleve. This is obvious even from a distance with the characteristic fluffy white spots that can be seen covering the pads of the plant.

Eastern EP Opuntia control success

The last twelve months have seen the cochineal activity speed up, possibly due to the drier conditions, with several plants that were infected as little as ten months earlier, now extremely effected by the cochineal.

Another species that we have had great success with over the last 12-14 months is Devil’s rope pear. You can see in the photos that there’s a large patch almost completely decimated.

Eastern EP Opuntia control success

Like many biocontrol options it can be a slow process however, once the cochineal has been released it’s a ‘set and forget’ control option with the added benefit of avoiding the use of chemicals which is rare in battling weeds.

Once established, it’s extremely simple to spread with just a couple of basic tools such as BBQ tongs and welding gloves – important tools as the majority of Opuntia species have nasty spines that can be difficult to remove.

If you have an Opuntia species on your property, please get in touch with one of our Landscape officers to arrange an identification and biocontrol release this summer (once conditions have dried up again).

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