Summer & Heavy Rains The Perfect Cocktail

locustAccording to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, the Australian Plague Locust (Chortoicetes Terminifera) can reach plague proportions if a sequence of heavy rain falls over inland areas through summer. This creates the ideal breeding ground for several generations to emerge and then massive populations migrate southward into agricultural regions and devour everything green.

Isn’t it amazing how we’ve been celebrating the extraordinary rains this year and revelling in the likelihood of the Murray-Darling river system finally getting a decent drink, only to find this pest takes advantage of the situation and ruins probably the best start for wheat croppers in the Mallee and Sunraysia districts for probably a decade.

Apparently years of dry weather and drought suppress locust populations, so the last three years have seen their numbers wane, but now they’re back and likely in record proportions, so what can we do in the 4WD community to assist?

Take A Holiday

locust 2I reckon the most effective control is for all of us to take a holiday into the Outback between April and June and again between September and November. You see if every 4WD registered in this country hopped on the road and took a 1,000 kilometre drive through these swarms, colliding with an average of 300-500 locusts per journey, there’d likely be around 4,000,000 fewer locusts this year! Imagine that sort of pest control, and not one drop of insecticide sprayed!

Ask Jason Stoltenberg

If your kids were looking for a distraction from their computer games whilst you were on your journey you could arm them with tennis racquets and send them running through the swarms, flailing their arms with destructive force and shredding the enemy even further. This would achieve another benefit in increasing the aerobic exercise of the nation’s young and be the making of future Wimbledon champions. In fact Aussie tennis ace Jason Stoltenberg who hails from Narrabri in Outback NSW, cut his tennis teeth whilst standing on the crushed termite mound tennis court his parents created for him, smashing locust “aces” when the plagues were on. He went on to win an estimated $3 million in his career, so imagine what the return your kids might bring with this seemingly aimless activity?

Splat… Clean It Up Afterwards

locustsplatter2_thumbIf you’re using your 4WD for locust suppression be prepared for a bit of work afterwards. The splattered bug guts dries to a very hard crust on paintwork, glass and chrome. It’s important not to let it stay for too long, as it becomes all the more hard to get off. High-pressure washers are the best, accompanied by a toothbrush for persistent spots. Where the bugs have accumulated across the face of the radiator core you’re best to let them dry, brushing them off with a banister brush or similar, don’t use the high pressure washer or you’ll flatten the fins of the core and reduce the cooling efficiency of the radiator.

The other nuisance will of course be the reduced visibility with splats all over the windscreen. Making sure you keep your washer bottle full and supplemented with a detergent will do the best job of keeping your view clear.

Beware The Dreaded European Wasp

PS It’s worth mentioning that any bug debris left on your 4WD will be a powerful attractant to unwanted pests, namely the European Wasp. Act quickly before your vehicle becomes the burger bar of your neighbourhood!

SA 2010 Locust Control Program Winds Down – 10/12/10

Just announced this week by PIRSA is that the spraying control program that’s been undertaken during the last couple of months across the Mid-North, Flinders and Riverland districts, is complete and will be scaled back to monitoring over Summer. There’s still a risk that significant numbers of locusts will reappear in 2011 after the near perfect breeding season that was 2010. It would appear PIRSA’s program was effective at preventing massive crop losses/damage from being decimated by the bugs, it’s just a pity that many farmers won’t get that bumper harvest now thanks to the capricious nature of the weather this week, courtesy of Tuesday’s massive Statewide storm. Our hearts go out to them!