Dr Richard Milner developed a 'green' control for locusts.
‘Green’ locust control a finalist in Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
CSIRO Honorary Research Fellow, Dr Richard Milner, is a finalist in the Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research for his research that developed the fungus, Metarhizium, as a green control for Australian plague locusts.
4 August 2006 | Updated 14 October 2011
Dr Richard Milner, Honorary Fellow at CSIRO Entomology, has been named as a finalist in the Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.
This prize is awarded for research in any field of the biological, physical, mathematical or biomedical sciences leading to the resolution of an environmental problem or the improvement of the natural environment.
He was nominated for his development of a rare native fungus, Metarhizium, into an environmentally friendly control for a major agricultural pest, plague locusts. Green Guard™ provides an alternative to chemicals that doesn’t harm other organisms.
This research was a joint initiative between CSIRO and the Australian Plague Locust Commission. CSIRO now has a commercial agreement with Becker Underwood Inc to market Green Guard™ to Australian farmers and overseas.
The CSIRO research
The naturally occurring soil fungus, Metarhizium, has long shown promise as a biopesticide to control a range of insects. Metarhizium is genetically diverse and each isolate has a distinct host range.
Using it as a biopesticide is an attractive control option as it doesn’t attack organisms other than insects or leave residues in the environment. It is also not a hazard to users.
Dr Milner and his team set out to see if there was a strain of the fungus, Metarhizium, that was effective against the Australian plague locust and, if successful, to develop a means of delivering it in the field effectively and efficiently. They found an isolate that was highly pathogenic against the Australian plague locust, Chortoicetes terminifera, and Australia’s main grasshopper pest, the wingless grasshopper, Phaulacridium vittatum.
It took a decade of research to produce a usable product. For a while it didn’t look promising. Locusts like it dry and the fungus likes it moist. But the need for a ‘green’ control kept them going and they eventually developed a formulation based on a mix of vegetable and mineral oils.
A 'green' control for locusts developed by CSIRO is a finalist in the Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.
Locusts, particularly the Australian plague locust, frequently produce outbreaks which threaten Australia’s agricultural areas and, without control measures, the cost to Australian primary industries and society would be enormous.
Chemical insecticides are effective but non-specific and hazardous. Because of this, they cannot be used to control locusts and grasshoppers in organic production areas, near wetlands or in areas with threatened species.
The Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Water and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries assisted CSIRO Entomology with the research.
About Green Guard™
Green Guard™ has been in use for some time under a special licence but now has full registration from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Chemicals Authority.
This means it will be available through agricultural resellers and Government bodies involved in locust control.
Green Guard™ has been passed as being suitable for use on organic properties by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture – Australia (NASAA) and by the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA).
Green Guard™, unlike chemical insecticides, can be used in organic production areas, near wetlands and in areas where threatened species exist. It leaves no residues.
Find out more about CSIRO's research on Pest Management.
Green Guard™ is a trademark of CSIRO Australia.