Pest Information

 

Many introduced exotic animals have established feral populations in Western Australia and have become pests. Their classification as pests can be determined by the damage they cause to the environment, economy and landscape. These animals may become declared pests under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 (BAM Act) and associated Regulations 2013. Under the BAM Act (2007), landholders have an obligation to control these species.

The following declared pests have been identified by the community as target priority pests for Leschenault Biosecurity Group.

European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

European rabbits are one of the most common and widespread animal pests in Australia. They are pests because they compete with livestock and native animals for pasture and food, damage crops and native vegetation, and cause erosion. Rabbits are a serious threat to both agriculture and native biodiversity.

The key to management success is persistence. One-off efforts produce only short-term results as rabbits may produce many offspring and populations can recover quickly even after successful control programs. Maximum effectiveness is achieved by integrating appropriate control methods. Best control is achieved in late summer when rabbit numbers are decreasing, and feed is limited. District-wide campaigns can reduce the problem of re-infestation by covering a large area.

Best practice methods for controlling rabbits can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

The red fox is a native of the northern hemisphere where it occurs throughout most of Europe, Asia, North America and the northern coast of Africa. The red fox was first introduced from Britain to Victoria, for hunting with foxhounds. Red foxes are members of the dog family (Canidae), which includes dogs, foxes and wolves. Foxes range in colour from pale red to deep reddish brown, the underparts whitish, and the lower part of the legs is usually black. The tail is bushy and almost always tipped with white or black hairs. As well as being a serious threat to agriculture, foxes are responsible for the decline of many native Australian species. Foxes tend to eat whatever is readily available to them. The make-up of their diet in a particular area varies seasonally and depends on which foods are most available at the time.

Best practice methods for controlling foxes can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa)

Historically, domestic pigs were allowed to range freely with some inevitably became feral, living and breeding in the wild. Accidental or deliberate introductions of domestic pigs into the wild continue today. Feral pigs from long-established populations tend to be small, having longer snouts, heavier forequarters and shorter backs than domestic breeds. White and piebald individuals are quite common in the South West. Feral pigs are omnivores with a high reproductive potential, capable of surviving in many habitats and adapting to changing conditions. They are likely to have a considerable impact on the environments in which they become established. There is evidence that pigs spread the fungal pathogen which causes dieback disease. Feral pigs are also susceptible to several significant exotic diseases of livestock not yet present in Australia. These include foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, rinderpest and rabies. It is important to control feral pigs to prevent the build-up of large numbers.

Best practice methods for controlling feral pigs can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Cotton Bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus)

Narrow Leaf Cotton Bush is a tall and slender shrub originating from Southern Africa. The white flowers form in drooping clusters from October to April. The distinctive seed pods are puffy, swan-shaped structures covered in soft spines. It has become widespread in southern WA. Narrow-leaf cotton bush spreads by seed, which usually germinate in spring or autumn, but can germinate at any time of year if warm, moist conditions prevail. Plants can re-sprout from the crown or root if parts of the plant above ground are damaged. The entire plant is poisonous to humans and stock, and the sap is a skin irritant. [ENTER] Small infestations can be treated via hand pulling, ensuring all the root material is removed. Chemical control via foliar spraying or cut and paint techniques can be extremely effective, especially on large infestations.

Best practice methods for controlling cotton bush can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)

Arum lily is a robust, dark green, succulent herb, also known as calla lily. It was introduced to WA from South Africa as a garden plant and subsequently escaped to become established as a weed. It is found in creeks, irrigation ditches and areas of summer-moist land in the higher rainfall South West, often forming large dense clumps. Arum lily spreads by regeneration from tuber fragments and by seed. The white cone-shaped flowers bloom in spring.

Herbicide application via foliar spraying is the most effective method of control, however, this needs to be undertaken with the correct chemical at the right stage of plant development.

Best practice methods for controlling arum lily can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Cape Tulip (Moraea sp.)

Two species of Cape tulip are Declared Pests in WA: one-leaf and the two-leaf. Both species are native to South Africa. One-leaf Cape tulip typically has only one leaf per plant. The leaves are 1-2cm wide and can be up to 1m long. The erect flowering stem can reach up to 60cm in height. The flowers are usually orange to salmon pink with a yellow centre. Two-leaf is very similar in appearance, though has two to five leaves and reproduces via corms instead of seeds. Both one-leaf and two-leaf Cape tulip are serious weeds of pasture as they contain toxic chemicals called glycosides which affect the heart and cause illness or death in stock.

Cape tulip can be difficult and expensive to eradicate. Hand pulling is ineffective due to the sensitivity of corms and dormancy of both the seeds and corms. Chemical control is required, however, some herbicides effective in controlling Cape tulip also damage pasture. The window for effective chemical control can be as little as two weeks.

Best practice methods for controlling Cape tulip can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Blackberry (Rubis sp.)

Blackberry is a semi-deciduous vine, growing to two meters high with canes up to seven meters long. Blackberry invades pastures, riverbanks and creek lines forming dense thickets that harbor pests such as foxes and rabbits. The dense growing habit of blackberry allows it to out-compete native species, while also creating a serious fire hazard. The species spreads by seed, rooting of cane tips, and by suckers from lateral roots. The fruit is eaten by birds and mammals (especially foxes) that can transport seeds large distances.

Several blackberry species occur in the South West, however all are dormant throughout winter and flower/fruit in summer. Blackberries have been prioritised at a national level as a Weed of National Significance (WoNS).

Herbicides can be extremely effective to eradicate this weed however, application must be undertaken at the correct rates and only when the plant is actively growing. Due to its pattern of growing near waterways, special care needs to be taken with herbicide use.

Best practice methods for controlling blackberry can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Apple of Sodom (Solanum linnaeanum)

A native of South Africa, apple of Sodom has mainly been found on coastal limestone soils, however, it is now reaching further inland in the South West. Apple of Sodom is a branching woody shrub, growing to one to two metres high. The plant forms dense thickets which provide cover for pests and shade out pasture plants. The thickets also restrict the movement of farm animals and machinery. The leaves and stem have distinctive long curved spines. The flowers have five purple petals joined to form a star, with a yellow centre. The round, tomato-like fruits are green at first, turning yellow, then brown and black as it ripens.

Herbicide application via foliar spraying or cut and paint techniques are the most effective methods of control.

Best practice methods for controlling apple of Sodom can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.

Paterson’s Curse (Echium plantagineum)

Also called Salvation Jane, Blueweed, Lady Campbell and Riverina Bluebell. Paterson’s curse is native to Southern Europe, though now recognised as a Declared Pest in South Western WA. This species is an annual herb, however can re-remerge in favourable conditions. It can be identified by its brightly coloured purple flowers and bristly stems. It has adapted to a wide range of soil types and produces prolific amounts of seed, which can sit dormant in the soil for up to 6 years. Paterson’s curse can out-compete crops and is toxic to horses and some stock. The seeds are most commonly spread via contaminated hay and grain, livestock droppings and machinery.

Chemical control is recommended, however can vary depending on situational conditions such as pasture type, grazing species present, bushland abundance and abundance of the weed. Individual plants can be removed by pulling, ensuring the root is removed with the plant.

Herbicides can be extremely effective to eradicate this weed however, application must be undertaken at the correct rates and only when the plant is actively growing. Due to its pattern of growing near waterways, special care needs to be taken with herbicide use.

Best practice methods for controlling Paterson’s curse can vary, so for personalised advice please email us.