Weed warriors tackle horehound

Forestry Corporation and Wakool Shire have donated six cages worth $350 each to six Riverina schools to help the children learn about biological control agents for weeds.

Stephen Battenally, noxious weed officer from Wakool Shire and program organiser, said in this case the noxious weed was horehound.

The program is part of ‘Weed Warriors’, a national initiative of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, which is encouraging communities to rear biological control agents to help manage weeds.

Mr Battenally said horehound was a noxious weed that was spread easily. It is evasive and is taking over bushland, grassland and forest.

The cages have been delivered to Barham Primary School, Wakool Public School, Burraboi Public School, Moulamein Public School, Tooleybuc Central School and Mallam Public School.

Mr Battenally said the schools were presented with the cages and 30 pots of horehound to put in them at the end of October.

‘The children introduced a biological agent to the weeds – which in this case was the horehound plume moth.

‘They were then able to watch the life cycle of the moth from egg to caterpillar,’ he said.

Mr Battenally collects the caterpillars from the schools and releases them into areas infested with horehound, often in a visual place near to town, so that the children can see them at work.

The program for this year is winding up on Tuesday (13 December) with Mr Battenally collecting caterpillars from Barham Primary School and releasing them into a vacant plot on the edge of Barham township.

‘Hopefully next year we can go back to areas we have used as biological controls and harvest caterpillars from the horehound to use as biological controls in another area,’ Mr Battenally said.

‘We are encouraging children to be Weed Warriors and offer the community a source of biological control for horehound.’

The Weed Warrior program in the Riverina is in its second year. Last year, the children released bridal creeper leafhoppers, a natural enemy of the bridal creeper a weed of national significance, into Campbell’s Island State Forest near Barham and the horehound plume moth at Wakool.

Mr Battenally said the joint effort between Wakool Shire and Forestry Corporation was working very well and he hoped to get more shires involved.

Forestry Corporation operations forester at Deniliquin Mick Lalor said Forestry Corporation welcomed the program.

‘The program is making a significant contribution to increasing education about weeds and also providing an important weed management option.

‘It provides an excellent opportunity to foster community partnerships to achieve effective pest and plant management,’ he said.

Media contact: Sarah Chester on 02 6036 2110 or 0417 207 669 or Steve Battenally on 0427 513 982. Photos available.