The tiny beetle combating destructive weeds along our creek banks

Healthy Land and Water is currently delivering one of the most extensive invasive vine weed management projects undertaken in South East Queensland. With funding provided by SEQWater, up to 100km of creek bank will be cleared of destructive weeds such as Cats Claw Creeper and Madeira over five years.

The project is helping to combat these invasive vine species through the release of a biological control agent –- specifically, the Jewel Beetle, native to South America. The beetle attacks the weeds and given enough time, will weaken the plant, reducing seed set and allowing other pathogens to take hold and reduce the weed’s vigour. While biological control agents will never destroy the host plant entirely, their presence lowers the impact of the weed, giving the native vegetation a chance to recover and eventually outcompete the weed.

Invasive vine weeds pose a huge threat to deep rooted remnant trees and shrubs and are capable of overgrowing and completely smothering trees which will eventually die. The loss of trees along a creek bank can be detrimental, causing erosion, lowering water quality and reducing biodiversity and available habitat for native insects, birds and animals.

Usually vine weeds are manually cut and treated with appropriate herbicides classified for use in aquatic areas. However, because of the extent of the vine weed infestations in the creeks in South East Queensland, it is inevitable weeds will flourish outside of the areas where manual removal which risks the reseeding of the cleared areas.

Where conventional control methods can be expensive, difficult and very labour intensive, costs associated with biological control raising and release remain relatively low. This financial year more than 58,000 Jewel Beetles have already been released at 16 locations across South East Queensland bringing the total beetles released to 90,000.

Healthy Land and Water purchases the Jewel Beetles from three community-owned Landcare Groups: Gympie Landcare, Moololah Landcare and Gold Coast Catchments Association. By supporting these community groups, we are ensuring the rearing facilities remain well maintained and productive. This in turn enables the groups to continue growing and releasing agents into infestations outside our project area.

The more Jewel Beetles released, the better the chance we have of slowing the growth of destructive weeds threatening our creek banks.

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