Death and regeneration in Western Sydney

Do you have dead or dying eucalyptus trees at your school or near your home in Western Sydney? Been wondering what is going on?

Western Sydney has experienced the largest eucalypt dieback event ever recorded in the last few years. The culprits have been little cicada like creatures called psyllids (Cardiaspina species). These insects lay larvae which feast on eucalypt sap via the leaves, sometimes completely defoliating and killing the tree. In our region only the grey box (Eucalyptus moluccana) has been targeted by the little munchers. This is a dominant tree in our threatened Cumberland Plain Woodland and has experienced several attacks over the last 25 years.

The psyllid larvae cover themselves in a protective shell called a ‘lerp’ and are sometimes called ‘lace lerps’ due to the intricate lace pattern of the shell.

Theories as to the cause are still being discussed, but Dr Markus Riegler of the University of Western Sydney thinks it may be related to climate change and the recent extreme dry and wet events experienced in our region. More detail can be found at http://www.uws.edu.au/newscentre/news_centre/more_news_stories/climate_changing_for_bug_battle_in_western_sydney.

Many of these trees are now regenerating and can be seen with the furry like stem regrowth that is usually seen after a bushfire. It will be interesting to see the survival rates as we move into another summer. Let us know what you have seen at your school and homes! Please post a comment below. Start a discussion with your students to see what they have observed.

If you are interested in a great blog on vegetation and ecology – visit Ian Lunt’s Ecological Research Site – he has some mega interesting stuff to share and was one of my fantastic lecturers at Charles Sturt University. http://ianluntresearch.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/what-did-you-get-from-the-big-wet/

One Comment on “Death and regeneration in Western Sydney

  1. Pingback: Our Fiery Eucalypts | Brewongle Environmental Education Centre

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