Millions of locusts have descended on the Longreach area of central Queensland.
The insects are stripping gardens and grass cover on grazing properties, but the effect will be much worse if the plague moves to cropping areas in the Central Highlands.
Biosecurity Queensland says the plague around Longreach is a medium-sized swarm of spur-throated locusts. The weather will determine where they move to next.
“Future movements of the swarm will depend on weather conditions,” it said in a statement.
Officers will conduct surveys this week to determine the risk of the swarm moving to the Central Highlands and whether control measures are necessary.
“The locusts are reported to be causing damage to trees in the [Longreach] area, but once the locusts disperse the trees will grow back to original condition,” Biosecurity Queensland said.
Insects ‘causing havoc’
“I’m looking at about 10,000 of them right now,” said John Palmer, the mayor of Longreach Regional Council.
“They’re everywhere, just everywhere. It just starts about 20, 25 kilometres out of town.
“Of a night time you just can’t have any sort of door or a window open.
“My son went home last night and had one louvre open in his house, one. The things just hit him, they’d just got in through the louvres.”
Mr Palmer said he’d not seen such an event for two or three decades.
He said the country around Longreach was looking “fantastic” after two good wet seasons.
“They’re certainly causing havoc, getting into all the trees. They might go through and just strip the top out of a tree, whoosh, gone!
“People with gardens are just trying to manage it, covering up trees, and when you walk past a plant you just need to shake it, to get these things moving off your plants.”
Longreach is a grazing area, and while farmers may be losing grass cover, the locusts are not attacking crops, he said.