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Anti-locust campaign intensifies.

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Anti-locust campaign intensifies

AFFA00/17D 2 November 2000

The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) is moving into the intensive part of its campaign this week and predicts the nation's locust plague will be under control before Christmas, if the weather is right.

APLC Director, Dr Graeme Hamilton, says swarm control is starting in Broken Hill in NSW and then moving south.

"It's more of a mopping up operation, following our success in controlling the hopper bands of younger locusts," he said.

"Unless there's significant rainfall, we should see locust populations die out by mid-December, but they'll do a lot of damage before they die if not controlled. We still don't know how widely spread the swarms will be in South Australia and northern NSW.

"The recent rainfall has halted the mortality of some locusts. They were dying because of the dry conditions, but will now reach the adult stage in many areas we thought we wouldn't have to control.

"The surviving locusts will congregate in greener areas where there's been ponding or runoff. However, this congregation makes it easier for us to find our swarm targets.

"The APLC is also about to start spraying hopper bands in the Riverina in NSW, south of the Murrumbidgee, which is home to the ground-dwelling bird, the Plains Wanderer.

"We'll be using the non-chemical Metarhizium (pronounced Meta-rizz-ee-um) spray, which poses little threat to the birds, while we research the effects of conventional insecticides.

"The world's first operational trial of the Metarhizium fungus has already exceeded expectations by destroying more than 90 per cent of locusts, with only half the anticipated dose."

Australian researchers have advanced the development of the environmentally-benign biopesticide. Known commercially as 'Green Guard', Metarhizium is produced for the APLC by Seed, Grain and Biotechnology (SGB) of Wodonga, under licence from CSIRO.

Further inquiries:

APLC Dr Graeme Hamilton 0428 264 083



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