Pandanus populations are under threat at Agnes Water.
Pandanus populations are under threat at Agnes Water.

Infestation destroying Agnes Water’s coastal trees

ICONIC trees between Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy are under threat due to an infestation of an insect.

The Pandanus trees found in the Agnes Water area and coastal areas south to Baffle Creek have received annual treatment from Gladstone Regional Council since 2015.

A council spokeswoman said the primary cause of Pandanus dieback was from heavy infestations of the leafhopper Jamella australiae.

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“The leafhopper feeds on the tree’s sap and produces a sticky honeydew, which encourages mould and fungal growth,” she said.

“The trees become weakened and susceptible to secondary infections and insect attack, which eventually kills them.

“It is thought that the leafhopper was accidentally introduced into our region by infested pandanus trees brought in for landscaping.”

The council spokeswoman said the Pandanus was an iconic tree which had a number of important ecological services including stabilising dunes, protecting nesting turtle rookeries and providing habitat and food for native animals.

Agnes Water main beach.
Agnes Water main beach.

“Pandanus dieback is best mitigated using a combination of management techniques,” she said.

“The parasitic wasp Aphanomerus pusilius is a natural predator of the leafhopper.

“The natural range of the parasitic wasp is north Queensland and the wasps are not well suited to the various climatic factors in our region, which causes local extinctions and restricts their distribution.

“Ensuring there are active populations of the wasp in our region is the most effective long-term management for Pandanus dieback.”

Other mitigation techniques include leaf stripping, direct seeding, revegetation and the use of insecticide.

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The council is currently searching for a tenderer to perform dieback mitigation in the area.

The spokeswoman said the position would be suitable for an ecologist with knowledge and experience in Pandanus dieback surveys and mitigation techniques.

“(The) community can do its part as well by being aware of the symptoms of Pandanus dieback and report signs of dieback in new areas,” she said.

“At the nursery purchase Pandanus that have been grown locally and inspect plants for signs of infection.”

To apply for the tender visit here.

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