Small creatures, big problem.
Small creatures, big problem.

Lawn grub plague on the march

A VORACIOUS army is marching on its stomach and munching through the lawns and grazing livelihoods of the Gympie Region.

Drought-breaking rain is proving a mixed blessing for many and a particular curse for some, including Melawondi pastoralist Chris De Vere, who says a plague of ‘army worms’ has decimated his precious winter pasture.

For Mr De Vere, like many of his neighbours, the problem is not just aesthetic damage to a prized lawn, but the fact that he is being driven out of business.

“I’ll probably have to get rid of about 100 cattle because I won’t be able to feed them,” he said yesterday, as he surveyed paddocks where the only green is provided by weeds and legumes.

“They won’t eat the legume, thank goodness,” Mr De Vere said as the so-called ‘worms’ continued their relentless march through his property. “I’ve lost between 300 and 400 acres.”

“I put on 11 tonnes of fertiliser and grubs got the lot.”

Plagues of caterpillars, including the notorious army worm, are currently such a problem in the Gympie Region that rural suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand for spray chemicals.

In the suburbs, lawns are going patchy and brown. Out of town, pasture croppers and graziers are wondering where it will end.

Tom Grady Rural’s Ian Randall says his Nash Street store’s warehouse has run out of stock of Lorsban spray “a couple of times already”.

There are reasonably natural control methods, he says, such as sprinkling salt on the lawn (if your soil isn’t too saline already), but the fastest is a spray product called Lorsban 500 EC, which comes in several generic brands, including Fortune 500.

Mr Randall says the army worms are not real worms but are very much a real army.

Also known as lawn grubs, they are already big business for garden stores and rural suppliers.

“We’re getting a lot of people coming in with lawn grubs.

“They march on just like an army. Nothing stops them.

“If they come to a concrete wall, they go under, over or around it.

“They just take one hill after another and then move on.

“They love water and they love nitrogen, so fertilised lawns are prime.

“So is rainwater, because of its nitrogen. They’ll get in your swimming pool, drains, everywhere.”

Gympie Times

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