8.8 C
Byron Shire
June 19, 2024

Keeping local biters at bay

Latest News

Who’s on the Writers Festival bill?

A vibrant program packed with high-profile literary luminaries, and new voices to discover, has been released by the Byron Writers Festival, to be held August 9 till 11.

Other News

Israel/Gaza

Following certain developments over the last couple of weeks, it is starkly obvious that those at the ICC in...

Youth suicide?

ABC News reporting on youth suicide in remote communities at an alarming rate? The Elders are using Aussie Rules...

Rail trails

Having ridden both local rail trails I can only say what a pleasure they bring. No cars or traffic noise...

Tweed Council – committed to a sustainable future

Tweed Shire Council is committed to a sustainable future and working with the community to protect the region’s internationally significant environment. 

Call for immediate ban on logging in the proposed Great Koala National Park 

There will be no more koalas in the wild in NSW by 2050 if we don’t take action to preserve their habitat, according to a NSW state parliamentary inquiry in 2020, but the Nature Conservation Council say NSW Labor still isn’t doing enough.

Volunteer groups get funding

Fourteen projects led by volunteer groups have been awarded $300,000 through the Community Building Partnership Program, says local Greens MP, Tamara Smith.

[author]Steve Spencer[/author]

Using natural methods to keep the Tweed’s biting insects at bay has been Clive Easton’s passion for 28 years.

Pottering around the shire’s wetlands and woodlands may not be everyone’s idea of a fun career, but Mr Easton describes it as the best job at council.

‘I’ve had a really good time. I’m allowed scope to do my job, which involves research and innovation, working with scientists, engineers, public health officers, town planners and the public. I get to meet and work with a lot of people,’ said Mr Easton, who plans to spend more time fishing, surfing and travelling after his retirement in February.

‘It keeps you thinking when you are dealing with complex ecology and a lot of people. People can be annoyed when they have a problem with insects, but it is always good to be able to help an individual.’

Mr Easton said control methods had changed drastically since he first began work on the Tweed in 1983. Nowadays mozzie control has more to do with making sure mosquito larvae become part of the aquatic food chain rather than aerial spraying with toxic insecticides.

Natural solutions

Allowing small fish into mosquito breeding grounds drastically drops mozzie numbers and appropriate controlled opening of certain flood gates to flush stagnant pools with salt water and reduce acidity can solve much of the problem.

‘Improving water quality and adjusting water levels has proven to be the best method. Mosquitoes thrive in poor-quality water devoid of natural predators,’ he said.

‘These days we have nothing like the number of mosquitoes that were about in the 1980s. Every season is different of course.

‘We try to avoid chemicals whenever possible and look to environmental solutions. Small changes to the habitat work well.’

One method now used involves use of soil bacteria discovered to kill only mozzies around desert waterholes in the Middle East. Spread around the wetlands, the commercially bred bacteria have a devastating effect of Tweed mozzies.

Decades of work by Mr Easton must have led to fewer cases of Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus in the shire. Mr Easton said the two illnesses were particularly debilitating to manual workers, such as farmers and tradesmen, because they may cause extended episodes of fatigue and arthritis in the small joints.

Biting midges are a harder ­problem to solve, according to Mr Easton, because they live much of their lives underground in their larval stages.

He said a big step forward took place in the 90s when council began to consider biting insect problems in their development control plans.

Mr Easton said creating buffer zones around new housing developments also helped to keep mozzies away from people.

‘We use softer methods of control these days.’

Image: Tweed Shire Council entomologist Clive Easton retires next month after almost 30 years keeping a keen eye on the shire’s insects, especially the biting ones. Photo Jeff ‘Itchy and Scratchy’ Dawson


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

A picnic is more fun with painting

It’s that time of year again when baguettes and olives are embraced along with your cerulean blues and your crimson lakes, for the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre’s annual Community Picnic and Artist Paint Out on Sunday, June 30.

Questions remain unanswered over Mullum’s water strategy

Questions unanswered over Mullum’s water strategy Council’s Water and Sewer Advisory Committee (WSAC) members Ben Fawcett and Elia Hauge say their concerns around Mullum’s future...

Tweed Council – committed to a sustainable future

Tweed Shire Council is committed to a sustainable future and working with the community to protect the region’s internationally significant environment. 

Whian Whian public school kids are all in D-tension

The Whian Whian Public School whole school band, D-Tension, are preparing for their first gig of 2024 and it’s going to go off with a bang – or at least a flash of lantern light on Saturday in Lismore.