Controlling Invasive Weeds with Insects and Fungi

13th April 2022

Landcare Tasmania is hosting a free info session about biological control for weeds on the 10th May. 

Image: The gorse soft shoot moth larvae © Jakob Sprickerhof

Late last year, Landcare Tasmania launched the Gorse Biological Control Project with the release of a biocontrol agent to tackle gorse.  We are hoping the release of this biocontrol agent will see significant reductions of the problematic species. 

Gorse is a declared weed on both a State and Federal level due its significant detrimental impacts on agriculture and the environment. The loss of usable agricultural land, increased fire intensity and the loss of biodiversity and native ecosystems are key issues. Effective control of gorse is highly challenging due to factors such as its prolific reproduction, the scale of the State-wide infestation, access, and limited resources and funding.

Image: Moth Webbing on Gorse © Jakob Sprickerhof

Landcare Tasmania’s Gorse Biological Control Project will distribute biological control agents of gorse in the North and North-West of Tasmania, as well as contribute to research on new biological control of this weed.  The focus is on the two biological control agents – the gorse soft shoot moth (Agonopterix umbellana) and the fungus Paraconiothyrium spp., which together can cause severe dieback on gorse plants.

The moth was first released in Tasmania in 2007, while the fungus occurs here naturally. It has been found that at sites where both the moth and the fungus attacked gorse, the plants were severely damaged, however more research on this is required.

Dr John Ireson, Biocontrol Expert 

Image: Dr John Ireson (left) and Joy Pfleger, Landcare Tasmania (right) releasing the gorse biocontrol agent last year. Picture: Joshua Peach 

As part of this project, on the 10th of May we will be hosting an info session on the various biocontrol methods available for invasive weeds.  Over thirty biocontrol agents, insects and fungi, have been released in Tasmania. They are used to target weeds such as gorse, thistles, brooms, boneseed, ragwort and more. We will be hearing from Dr John Ireson from the University of Tasmania, who has been researching biocontrol for over 35 years and who's research group received a Tasmanian Landcare Australia Research Award for work on the biological control of ragwort.

Dr Ireson will be providing an introduction of the current biocontrol methods available, an update about their successes, and an outlook for the future of biocontrol.  Whether you are a farmer, looking after your local patch, or simply concerned about weeds in your local area, this workshop is set to provide some great insights.

Come Along!

Location: Claude Road Hall, 787 Claude Road TAS 7306
Date: 10th of May 2022
Time: 10:00 – 11:30
Admission: Free

This program is thanks to generous funding from The JM Roberts Charitable Trust.