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Wednesday 22 October 2014

Beetles to fight bush fly menace in Oz

19th August, 2014 by Simon Howland

A new species of beetle is being introduced into Western Australia’s wine regions in an effort to eradicate swarms of bush flies wreaking havoc on the tourism industry.

The European dung beetles are being introduced to tackle the bush fly swarms.

The European dung beetles are being introduced to tackle the bush fly swarms.

If you have ever visited the wine regions of Western Australia there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the act of hanging on to your wine glass with one hand while swatting away flies with the other.

But now, according to the West Australian, the WA state government is releasing a new species of beetle with the aim of eradicating the breeding grounds of the dexterity challenging bush fly.

Hundreds of dung beetles, native to the Mediterranean wine regions of Spain and France, are being released into the area to clean up the cow pats the flies call home.

Key West Australian wine regions such as the Margaret River and Great Southern should be the main beneficiaries of the project.

Over the past two years, scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have been breeding the newcomers to pick up the slack left by the native beetle species.

The native dung beetle only eat the poo of the indigenous marsupial populations as well as taking a break over the all important tourist high season in Spring.

Speaking to the West Australian, WA Department of Agriculture’s senior entomologist Rob Emery, said the beetles should prevent the bush flies from swarming over unsuspecting tourists in the warmer months.

However Emery warned the beetles would take over a decade to establish themselves.

“Those dung beetles will just shred the dung, bury it, lay eggs in it and there’s just nothing left for the flies,” he said.

Emery said the beetles would be released near Kojonup, 230km East of Margaret River, as its climate is the closest match to the beetles’ Mediterranean home and would thus give them the best chance of success.

Jancis Robinson says Margaret River “makes great, particularly refined, complex Cabernet,” so soon visitors will be able to focus on drinking it rather than chewing it.

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