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Locust plague wipes out crops after rains

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A locust plague is causing nightmares for northwest Queensland graziers just weeks after their dreams of much-needed rain were realised.

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The large swarms have emerged around Charters Towers, wiping out grass shoots that began to sprout after late December rain.

Charters Towers Mayor Frank Beveridge said the problem was particularly bad in some areas west of the township.

“You can be driving along and then hit a huge plague of them and be left with dead insects all over your car,” he told AAP.

“It can be quite devastating if you are a grazier and have waited 12 months for rain … and then the grass disappears.”

Videos highlighting the extent of the problem have emerged on Facebook.

Grazier Patrick Scharf posted a video showing a huge swarm of the locusts hopping over a patch of land.

“This is what we have to put up with now. As a small green pick comes up these little mungral’s (sic) just chew it off,” he wrote.

Scharf said he had been spraying the locusts since mid-January and help was needed from government departments.

Beveridge said the climatic conditions had to be just right for the locusts to thrive and it was hard to predict how long the problem would last.

“If the conditions extend then they might cycle a number of times, which means they are a problem for a lot longer,” he said.

Biosecurity Queensland officers visited a property earlier this month and believe the insects are yellow-winged locusts or eastern plague locusts, which aren’t among the species declared as class two pest animals.

“However, Biosecurity Queensland has discussed with Charters Towers Regional Council the possibility of using spray equipment, previously gifted to local governments, to be made available to landholders to support on-ground control if necessary,” a Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said.

AAP

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