In northern Australia, a family of beetles is cultivating as an alternative solution to reduce the number of certain weeds (nuisance plants) spreading in the region. The Calligrapha beetle is used as a biological controller of a weed known as Sida. This type of beetle can reduce weed density within a few weeks.
Jack and Kelly Barker spent the school holidays collecting beetles and the activity paid off. “I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I didn’t know these bugs were worth two dollars a head.”
They collected the Calligrapha beetle which was introduced in the Northern Territory, Australia in 1989 to control the spread of Sida weed.
The invasive weed is found throughout the Northern Territory, and prevents livestock, which do not eat the weed, from grazing on grazing fields.
The beetles are released in hundreds of locations to help farmers. Sally Isberg a beetle farmer explains, “The Calligrapha beetle is a great biological control because it only eats Sida’s weed. When Sida’s weed is gone, the beetles eat nothing. That’s exactly what we were doing.”
For Jack and Kelly, finding beetles in their area on the outskirts of Darwin, a city in northern Australia, is an easy task. They said they only needed to look for eel grass in order to find the calligrapha beetle.
“We found a number of beetles and collected them. Each time we got them we used this button to click and when we were done we then filled the bucket, full of Sida’s grass.”
Jack and Kelly has sold over 150 beetles. They explained that after the customers released the beetles in their area, it was only a matter of time until the beetles did their job. Jack further added, “The beetles take several weeks to completely deplete Sida’s plants.”
Thanks to the new way to eradicate Sida weed, the family living in northern Australia hopes to reduce herbicide use.
And it is a wise way to preserve the environment. [mg/lt]