[ASC-media] Flea beetle controls curse

Yuncken, Elizabeth eyuncken at agric.wa.gov.au
Fri Aug 20 18:36:09 EST 2004

Media release from the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia

23 August 2004

Paterson's curse is under attack on a Leeman farm following the successful
establishment of a biological control insect.

The flea beetle was released on the property in 1999 by the Department of
Agriculture and this week, close to 3000 beetles were collected from the
established population.

Department Senior Technical Officer Paul Wilson said it was the first time a
biological control insect had been collected from a release site and
re-distributed to nine new sites in the West Midlands.

Mr Wilson said five insects had been introduced as part of an integrated
approach to control Paterson's curse and had now established resident
populations in Western Australia.

"The Department has been working for 15 years on the problem, with funding
support from Meat and Livestock Australia and Woolmark, through a
nation-wide project," he said.

"Since 1988, we've gradually introduced the leaf mining moth, crown weevil,
root weevil, flea beetle and pollen beetle on 274 properties across all
agricultural areas from Bremer Bay to Geraldton. 

"The flee beetle has been released at 70 sites and is now established on 65
properties, which is a 93 per cent success rate. The next best establishment
rate is 45 per cent for root boring weevil."

Mr Wilson said at the Leeman property in 2003, a survey within the nursery
site revealed that 53 per cent of Patterson's curse plants had been attacked
by the beetle.  

"This is a terrific result with the potential to reduce seed set by 70 per
cent, but it is not a quick fix.  Patterson's curse is still a major problem
on the property," he said.

Paterson's curse is a Weed of National Significance and is a declared plant
in Western Australia, where it can smother pasture species. Its greatest
impact is in high rainfall areas, on grazing land. 

Mr Wilson said the biological approach to control Paterson's curse was a mid
to long-term proposition and was only part of the solution. 

More information about Paterson's curse, biological and other control
methods are available on the Department's website at www.agric.wa.gov.au
(search for reference Paterson's) or in a range of Farmnotes available from
Department offices.

Media Contacts:
Paul Wilson, Senior Technical Officer, 9368 3758
Alison Blake, Media Liaison Officer, 9368 3641 -
alison.blake at agric.wa.gov.au
Pics are available from Alison if required.

Posted by 
Liz Yuncken
Community Liaison Officer
Department of Agriculture

Ph 08 9368 3937
Fax 08 9474 2018
eyuncken at agric.wa.gov.au

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