Even in this very dry season, the Prickly Pear (Opuntia stricta) keeps growing. It is being partially controlled by the Moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) but this bio-control does not keep the plant from flowering and producing fruit and seeds. The Honorary Rangers work on an ongoing basis, cultivating the Cochineal Bug and putting this form of bio-control on the bushes. The bio-control does not usually completely kill its food source but keeps it small and under stress so that it does not flower.
The procedure is as follows: The cladodes that are ready - that have a lot of white cochineal bugs on them - are cut and put into boxes. They are transported to areas that have Prickly Pear growing. Some of the bushes are cut to be used in the shed and a suitable size cladode is placed on the bush. The bugs will transfer to the bush. The fresh, green cladodes are then placed in the shed and old dry cladodes with the bug on them are placed on the top to continue the propagation.
Here are photos of Graeme, Joce and Tholani (Junior) a conservation student, working this morning on the above project."
The pictures have notations on them explaining the process. Property owners can be encouraged to let the Honorary Rangers know of areas where there is a lot of Prickly Pear. Graeme Altenkirk is heading this project and can be contacted on 0824688357.
- Prickly Pear taken from shed Prickly Pear taken from shed
- Transporting cuttings with cochineal Transporting cuttings with cochineal
- Cochineal taken from Shed and is swept clean Cochineal taken from Shed and is swept clean
- . Cochineal bug put on PP in Field . Cochineal bug put on PP in Field
- Harvesting PP and putting on cochineal Harvesting PP and putting on cochineal
- Some Prickly Pear has the Cactus Moth Some Prickly Pear has the Cactus Moth
- Putting new cuttings into shed with cochineal Putting new cuttings into shed with cochineal