Bug blitz helps to keep pests at bay

Taxonomist Andras Szito was one of many Department of Agriculture and Food staff who helped identify pests.
Taxonomist Andras Szito was one of many Department of Agriculture and Food staff who helped identify pests.

SPOT the bug tip-offs by the public have boosted a smart new campaign to stop unwanted insects in their tracks.

The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) has hailed Biosecurity Blitz a success, harnessing community feedback in helping to identify pests and diseases that could threaten the agriculture and food sector.

To simplify the reporting process this year, the department developed the MyPestGuide reporter and MyCrop apps.

Project manager Rosalie McCauley said the two-week blitz in September spread the message biosecurity was a shared responsibility and raised awareness of the need to protect exports to international markets.

“The outcome of the Biosecurity Blitz was very encouraging, with the department receiving more than 500 reports during the event,” she said.

People less familiar with using apps could report via the DAFWA Pestfax and MyPestGuide online reporting tools, or by free-calling or emailing the Pest and Disease Information Service.

During the Biosecurity Blitz, the number of MyPestGuideReporter app downloads was more than five times the number of previous fortnightly figures.

Dr McCauley said among the variety of insects reported was the native stink bug, which could be mistaken for a more serious threat.

“We welcomed stink bug reports because we were able to identify them as native species, rather than the serious agricultural pest, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which affects fruit and vegetable production in China, Japan and the United States,” Dr McCauley said.

“This helps support our claim that Western Australia is free from this exotic species.”

People who downloaded the reporting apps are encouraged to continue notifying potential pests to DAFWA.

The free apps are available via links on the department’s Biosecurity Blitz web page.

The Blitz is part of the DAFWA $20 million Boosting Biosecurity Defences project.