A new and exciting control method for the weedy cat’s claw creeper is about to be released into the Petrie Creek catchment.
The leaf-mining jewel beetle (Hylaeogena jureceki) is native to South America and eats the leaves of cat’s claw creeper (Dolichandra unguis-cati). It has been successful in trials in South Africa and more recently in Australia for controlling the weed, whilst not posing risk to non-target plant species.
There has been extensive testing of the beetle both here in Australia and overseas. It is host specific which means it only eats the cat’s claw creeper. Once the creeper has been eaten, the populations either die out or move to another infestation.
Maroochy Waterwatch, with support from SEQ Catchments through the Queensland Government, will be releasing the jewels on selected sites this to help manage this significant weed.
Hetti Malone, Natural Area Manager of Maroochy Waterwatch said, “Whilst there is a long history of weed management done on cat’s claw creeper throughout the Petrie Creek catchment, there are still significant populations remaining that can support the release of the leaf-mining jewel beetle”.
Cat’s claw creeper is a Declared Class 3 weed species and a Weed of National Significance due to its invasiveness, potential to spread and have severe environmental, economic and social impacts. It can be termed a ‘transformer species’ because of the severe smothering impact on native vegetation and the ability to alter ecosystems.
“The usual management of cats claw creeper is heavily labour intensive involving a combination of physical and chemical methods whereas biological control of this climbing pest is a potentially cost effective, low risk alternative long-term management solution,” she added.
Cat’s claw creeper can be identified from the three-clawed tendrils as the base of the leaves which are used to climb over vegetation.
Biosecurity Queensland has been growing the jewel bugs for release and Maroochy Waterwatch has just received their first beetle package with the beetles released in a cat’s claw creeper infestation in Nambour.
The beetle control has potential to be effective however it may not produce instant effects. The beetles need time and favourable conditions to build up populations that will reduce an infestation. The entire process could take years.
“Monitoring of the jewel beetle release site will focus on visible destruction to cat’s claw creeper leaves and distance the beetle makes from the release point,” Miss Malone said.
While the jewel beetle gets to work, so will the staff and volunteers at Maroochy Waterwatch.
Miss Malone said, “This project will also gather information and mapping of any small or large infestations throughout the Maroochy River catchment, focussing primarily on the Petrie Creek catchment. The program will provide technical assistance to landowners on physical and chemical control of the weed. It is vital to prioritise work over the coming three years for the project.”
If anyone is interested in being part of the weed control program, phone Maroochy Waterwatch on 5476 4777 or emailinfo@maroochycatchmentcentre.