A small, red insect, no bigger than a match head, may hold the answers in the battle against the weed doublegee.
Red apion is a weevil native to the Mediterranean region. It features prominently in a CSIRO search for biological control for doublegee, which is estimated to cost $40 million in damage to Western Australian agriculture every year. In eastern states, doublegee is known as spiny emex or three-cornered jack.
The project, with support from growers through the GRDC and Agriculture WA, will see the release of the weevil at four sites around WA this year.
Project leader John Scott said laboratory observations and a field trial at Cunderdin last year had shown promising results. Tests in quarantine proved it was safe for Australia's environment.
"Biological control will not totally remove doublegee. The aim is to make it less abundant and more manageable for farmers," Dr Scott said.
Program 3.3.3 Contact: Dr John Scott 08 9333 6644