Gympie’s Gillian Crossley has had concerns about the rampant spread of cats claw for some 15 years.
Gympie’s Gillian Crossley has had concerns about the rampant spread of cats claw for some 15 years. Submitted

Claw Vine destroying vegetation

IT has the potential to destroy the district’s vegetation and right now it seems local landholders are fighting a losing battle against the relentless smothering cats claw vine.

Landcare volunteer Gillian Crossley has put in hundreds of hours of back-breaking work trying to kill the weed on her own property, as well as educate other people on eradication methods.

However, recent good rains have spurred the vine on and many people are noticing the bright yellow flowers in areas that have never had the weed before.

“It’s galloping away,” Mrs Crossley said.

Today will see rural and urban landholders attend an open day at Gympie Landcare with a focus on controlling cats claw, but the main hope for reigning in the creeper is insects.

Experts said biological control of cats claw is the most promising and perhaps only way to control the vine.

Dr K Dhileepan, a researcher at the Allan Fletcher Research Station in Brisbane said the weed was invading areas from northern-New South Wales up as far as Mackay. Speaking with The Gympie Times yesterday, Dr Dhileepan said the vine was hard to kill manually because of its large tubers.

“I’ve been pulling plants here for seven years – they have so much resource below the ground,” he said.

Two biological agents, the leaf sucking tingid and the leaf-tying moth have been explored, host-tested and released to try and combat the vine’s spread.

The highly host specific tingid bug from Argentina and Brazil feeds on the contents of leaf tissue and while it had managed to establish itself at about 80 per cent of the release sites, it had been tardy in spreading.

“It’s taking longer than we thought,” Dr Dhileepan said. “They are damaging the plant but it’s very slow.”

The leaf-tying pyralid moth, also from Argentina and Brazil, causes severe defoliation of cats claw but its rearing is labour intensive.

Dr Dhileepan said a third insect, the leaf-mining buprestid beetle would probably be released by the end of this year.

Dr Dhileepan said experts were hopeful the three insects would have an impact on the spread of cats claw. He added community involvement was essential in helping to establish the agents.

For more information about available control methods of cats claw contact Gympie and District Landcare on 5483 8866.

Gympie Times


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