18 July 1998

Weevils Wipe Out Killer Weeds in PNG

Just when you through it was safe to go back to the water, along comes a six legged bug that makes it safe. In another biological breakthrough Down Under the CSIRO's entomology division has used tiny, Neochetina bruchi and Neochetina eichhorniae weevils to attack water hyacinth's clogging waterways in the Sepik river region of New Guinea.

The water hyacinths were first seen in the Lower Sepik river in 1984 and quickly spread throughout the region, clogging up waterways and wetlands that the local people rely on. PNG's Department of Agriculture and Livestock considered using sprays and other methods to control the weeds but eventually turned to AusAID (an Australian government foreign aid programme) and the CSIRO for help.

Mr Michael Julien of the CSIRO said, "Over the past five years, we have released 450,000 weevils and reduced infestations from 27 square kilometers to just seven". This was done by releasing 450,000 of the weevils, which has resulted in the infestations being reduced from twenty seven to seven square kilometers.