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A bug’s life: bio-control with bite

Posted: Mon, November 01, 2010

TWO dedicated of sisters is making an impact in the fight against invasive weed species using insects in an innovative form biological control.

Working from their home in Wooliana, near Daly River, Rita Purack and Frances Maljat breed moths and weevils to control mimosa and salvinia infestations on Malak Malak land.

Joye Maddison co-ordinates the program through the Wangamaty Land Care and attributes its success to the fact it is an all-female operation. 

“This work is far too fussy for men,” she said. 

“It’s been tried in other areas and has failed.  I believe we’ve been successful here because Frances and Rita have been willing to do all the little jobs each day necessary for a breeding program.”

The work forms part of an integrative approach to local weed management, along with the contribution of the Malak Malak Rangers, and has made significant improvements the mimosa and salvina populations. 

The released insects can only eat the targeted weed species.

Rita said at first her and Frances became sad when they saw the insects dying.  “We were really worried about those bugs,” she said. 

“But that’s how it works.”