GUEST SPEAKER - Ray Thomas Die Back and Mistletoe
Ray was a chemistry, maths and science teacher and then moved on to specialising in the environment with a focus on restoring habitat for endangered species especially the regional honey eater.
He showed us slides of Mistletoe and the damage it caused to trees and said that it was important to get it into balance, making it useful for wildlife. Be-cause Mistletoe sucks the juice out of trees, you can chop it off but you need to address the root cause.
Sheep, cattle and possums love Mistletoe, so you have to create the right habitat eg shrubs and hollows, for them.
Mistletoe spreads via the Mistletoe bird. It eats the fruit and then poos on to a branch where the seed sticks and starts to grow.
The Woodwhite butterfly eats Mistletoe and lays its eggs on the plant, then the grubs eat the Mistletoe. We need to attract more butterflies by planting the right understory. Sixty plus varieties of bird eat the Mistletoe, but they do their droppings on the ground where the Mistletoe dies. Again we need to create good habitat for Mistletoe eaters.
Ray showed us examples of Ironbark and Greybox trees in the process of Die Back. Often it’s because stock camps occur underneath them and the soil is fertilised with manure and urine with a concentration of 40 times the usual nitrate. This causes huge growth and attracts Christmas beetles which eat the growth and cause the damage.
There are other things which eat the trees eg caterpillars and sillen insects which cause an infestation.
Again, the answer is to improve the understory and plant shrubs close together. The birds, lizards, frogs and spiders are all attracted to this and will clean up 60% of the insects causing Die Back.
If you plant wattles in your understory, you introduce gooey sap which attracts the sugar gliders and hairy wasps who also eat the Christmas beetles.
Ray’s presentation raised lots of questions.
Terry Hubbard gave the vote of thanks.
Christmas Beetles          Ray's Presentation                          Old Style Technology
No wonder Russell got the biggest pavlova tonight.
His granddaughter even delivered it with a hug.
Our Caterers - Sacred Heart Primary School