A Jewel to Crush the Clawed Creeper
  • Last updated:
  • 25 Sep 2018

A new and exciting control method for Cat’s Claw Creeper has been released into the Petrie Creek catchment.

The Leaf-mining Jewel Beetle (Hylaeogena jureceki) is native to South America and eats the leaves of Cat’s Claw Creeper (Dolichandra unguis-cati). It has been successful in trials in South Africa and more recently in Australia for controlling the weed, whilst not posing a risk to non-target plant species.

Maroochy Waterwatch, with support from SEQ Catchments through the Queensland Government, will be releasing these minute jewels on selected sites to help manage this significant weed.

Cat’s Claw Creeper can be identified from the three-clawed tendrils at the base of the leaves which are used to climb over vegetation.

Whilst there is a long history of weed management on Cat’s Claw Creeper throughout the Petrie Creek catchment, there are still significant populations remaining that can support the release of the leaf-mining jewel beetle.

Cat’s Claw Creeper is a Declared Class 3 Weed Species and a Weed of National Significance due to its invasiveness, potential to spread and create severe environmental, economic and social impacts. It can be termed a 'transformer species' because of its severe smothering impact on native vegetation and its ability to alter ecosystems. In my experience, management of Cat’s Claw Creeper is labour intensive involving a combination of physical and chemical methods whereas biological control is a potentially cost effective, low risk and long-term alternative management solution.

Biosecurity Queensland supplied the Leaf-mining Jewel Beetles and Maroochy Waterwatch has just released their first beetle package in a Cat’s Claw Creeper infestation in Nambour. The Leaf-mining Jewel Beetle control has potential to be effective however, it is unlikely to produce instant results. The little guys need time and favourable conditions to build up populations that will reduce an infestation. This process could take years.

Monitoring of the Leaf-mining Jewel Beetle release site will focus on visible destruction to Cat’s Claw Creeper leaves and the distance the beetle makes from the release point. This project will also gather information and mapping of any small or large infestations throughout the Maroochy River catchment, focussing primarily on the Petrie Creek catchment. The program will provide technical assistance to landowners on physical and chemical control of the weed.

If anyone is interested in being part of the weed control program, phone Maroochy Waterwatch on 5476 4777 or email info@maroochycatchmentcentre.org.au .

Image 1: Leaf-mining Jewel Beetle (Hylaeogena jureceki) feeding on Cat’s Claw Creeper.

Image 2: Cat’s Claw Creeper can be identified from the three-clawed tendrils as the base of the leaves.

Article by Hetti Malone
Natural Area Manager Maroochy Waterwatch