As spring slowly comes our way, we thought it a good time of year to bring you a series of pest and disease management tips.
This week we’re focusing on identifying the damage that big pests like kangaroos, wallabies, rabbits and hares cause, because they often inflict their worst damage at this time of year, especially on newly planted trees.
The key to effective pest and disease management is to figure out how to protect your trees or fruit from the pest.
This may sound completely obvious, but in fact is quite opposed to the more conventional approach of trying to get rid of the pest altogether (often with chemicals).
Trying to get rid of pests doesn’t work; it’s expensive, time consuming and frustrating, and in fact every animal and insect has its place in the ecosystem – even if we don’t necessarily want them near our fruit trees!
The first step in our strategy is to figure out what’s doing the damage. It’s one of the basic principles we rely on in the Protect Fruit Trees from Pesky Pests short course (which includes identification and prevention methods for pests that damage both fruit and trees).
This photo above shows what hare damage looks like, and the one below shows a close-up view (pretty gruesome, isn’t it?)
Kangaroos will also nibble the top of young trees (they seem to find apical [tip] buds especially delicious), though kangaroo or wallaby damage often seems more incidental than purposeful, done by accident as they clumsily jump past the trees, resulting in this type of damage:
Another clue to identify the culprit animal that’s doing the damage is to look carefully on the ground for scats (or poo, as most of us call it).
To help you figure out which animal might be responsible for eating your fruit trees, here’s some photos of other types of animal scats (thanks to ABC Science and The Wildlife Trusts for these photos):