A plague of mystery black aphids continues to ravage fireweed at Tilba sucking the life out of and killing the noxious plants on the property of Ron Snape.
Despite the so-called experts dismissing the aphid as a possible biological control for fireweed, Mr Snape has been amazed by the impact of the tiny black insects.
He is frustrated that there has not been more interest from the scientific community and government agencies tasked with controlling fireweed.
“I am calling on the experts to act like scientists, be inquisitive and come and have a look” Mr Snape said. “Do some meaningful research so we do not miss out on the possibility of this being a viable biological assisting agent. This could be the cactoblastis of fireweed.”
In the past six weeks since he first noticed the aphids on the the fireweed on his property, the insects have almost totally decimated the weeds in one section of his property. And it appears the aphid could be spreading as it has spotted on two additional properties at nearby Mystery Bay.
Mr Snape attended this month’s Eurobodalla Shire Council meeting bringing with him bags of aphid-affected fireweed to show the councillors and to implore them to demand more scientific studies.
He hopes that the councillors will visit his property soon to see for themselves the impact the aphid is having on the weed.
He has also contacted State Member Andrew Constance, Federal Member Mike Kelly, Federal Minister Barnaby Joyce, Biosecurity Australia and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
He also been in contact with other fireweed impacted landowners including a dairy farmer at Kangaroo Valley near Nowra, who is very interested.
A local DPI weeds officer who visited his property this month was excited to see the impact of aphid and took some samples.
Mr Snape however is concerned that if the aphid is not studied and identified before the fireweed dies over summer that it might be lost to science and so would its potential as a biological agent to take on fireweed across the country.
He is hoping that the aphid can be identified as a either a local or introduced species and that other host plants can be identified so that it can be used over coming seasons on a wider scale.
“There is no time to lose and we need to act now,” he said.
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