pests and weed control

Weeds, Pests and Nuisance Native Animals

Invasive species – plants and animals – that have entered Australia from elsewhere, and which now cause economic, social or environmental harm.

Weeds You Need to Control

Weeds are plants that are not wanted within a specified area and have the ability to germinate, establish and spread without human intervention. They are able to displace wanted vegetation and often grow in locations not suited to their habit such as small trees growing out of cracks in pavements etc. Weeds are largely found in unmanaged areas of private and public lands and can be difficult to remove once established.

Council actively manages weeds throughout the Mosman Local Government Area through several operational contracts and through inspection by Council Officer’s on private property. Council is the Local Control Authority and private property inspections are focused on those properties that are directly adjacent to Council’s natural assets or on properties where an enquiry has been received regarding noxious weeds.

Weeds in Mosman can be grouped into two categories; Noxious and Environmental.

Noxious Weeds

Some weeds are declared Noxious Weeds. A noxious weed is one that must legally be controlled or removed by the property occupier. Weeds are declared as noxious because they are a threat to human health, the environment or the agriculture industry. Council has powers to issue notices to property owners/occupiers requiring removal of noxious weeds under the Noxious Weeds (Weed Control) Order 2014.

The noxious weed declarations for NSW are placed into the following categories:

Class 1 – State Prohibited Weeds
“The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant.”

Class 2 – Regionally Prohibited Weeds
“The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant.”

Class 3 – Regionally Controlled Weeds
“The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.”

Class 4 – Locally Controlled Weeds
“The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.”

Class 5 – Restricted Plants
“The requirements in the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 for a notifiable weed must be complied with.”

Below are images of commonly occurring noxious weeds with the Mosman LGA. For the complete list please refer to NSW Department of Primary Industries – Biosecurity website on the link above.

Asparagus Fern (groundcover)
Asparagus Fern (groundcover)
Balloon Vine (vine)
Balloon Vine (vine)
Blackberry (shrub)
Blackberry (shrub)
Moth Vine (vine)
Moth Vine (vine)
Castor Oil (shrub)
Castor Oil (shrub)
Green Cestrum (shrub)
Green Cestrum (shrub)
Lantana (shrub)
Lantana (shrub)
Madeira Vine (vine)
Madeira Vine (vine)
Morning Glory (vine)
Morning Glory (vine)
Pampas Grass (grass)
Pampas Grass (grass)
Large-leafed Privet (tree)
Large-leafed Privet (tree)
Cassia (shrub)
Cassia (shrub)
African Olive (tree)
African Olive (tree)
Honey Suckle (vine)
Honey Suckle (vine)
Ochna (shrub)
Ochna (shrub)
Turkey Rhubarb (vine)
Turkey Rhubarb (vine)

Environmental Weeds

Environmental weeds are weeds that are not classified noxious however they establish easily and invade natural areas including gardens. As such construction sites are to be kept free of these plants along with plants declared noxious in the Mosman LGA.

Weed list adapted from Australian Association of Bush Regenerators , ‘Bushland Weeds of Sydney.’

Scientific nameCommon nameScientific nameCommon name
Acacia baileyana Cootamundra WattleLeycesteria formosa Himalayan Honeysuckle
Acacia podalyriiflolia Queensland Wattle Lilium formosanum Taiwan Lily
Acacia saligna Golden Wreath Wattle Myrsiphyllum asparagoides Baby Smilax
Acer negundo Box Elder Nephrolepis cordifolia Fishbone Fern
Ageratina adenophora Crofton WeedParietaria judaica Asthma weed
Ageratina riparia Mistflower Paraserianthes lophantha Crested Wattle
Alectryon tomentosus Woolly Rambutan Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia Creeper
Andropogon virginicus Whisky Grass Paspalum distichum Water Couch
Bidens pilosa Farmers Friend Passiflora edulis Passionfruit
Bryophyllum delagoense Mother-Of-millions Pavonia hastata Pavonia
Cabomba caroliniana Cabomba, Fanwort Pennesetum spp. Fountain grass
Caesalpinia decapetala Mysore Thorn Persicaria capitata Japanese Knotweed
Chlorophytum comosum Ribbon Plant Phoenix canariensis Canary Island Palm
Cinnamomum camphora Camphor Laurel Phytolacca octandra Inkweed
Conyza spp. Fleabanes Polygala myrtifolia Polygala
Coprosma repens Mirror PlantPrunus cerasus Sour Cherry
Coreopsis lanceolata “Calliopsis”Psoralea pinnata African Scurf-pea
Cotoneaster spp. Cotoneaster Pyracantha angustifolia Firethorn
Crocosmia X crocosmiiflora MontbretiaRhaphiolepis indica Cherry Laurel Indian Hawthorn
Dietes bicolor DietesRobinia pseudoacacia Black Locust
Dimorphotheca spp. Cape Marigold Salix spp. Willow, Osier, Pussy Willow
Ehrharta erecta Panic VeldtgrassSalpichroa origanifolia Pampas Lily of the Valley
Ehrharta longiflora Annual Veldtgrass Sapium sebiferum Chinese Tallow
_Erica lusitanica _ Spanish Heath Setaria geniculata var pauciseta Slender Pigeon Grass
Erigeron karvinskianus Seaside Daisy Sida rhombifolia Paddy’s Lucerne
Erythrina crista-galli Cockspur Coral Tree Solanum jasminoides Potato Vine
Erythrina X sykesii Coral Tree Sporobulus africanus Parramatta Grass
Fiedychium gardnerianum Yellow Ginger Lily Tephrosia grandiflora False Swainsonia
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel Thunbergia alata Black-eyed Susan
Gomphocarpus physocarpus Balloon Cotton Bush Tradescantia albiflora Wandering Jew
Hydrocotyle bonariensis Kurnell Curse Verbena bonariensis Purple Top
Ilex aquifolium Holly Watsonia meriana cv. Bulbillifera Bugle Lily, Common Watsonia
Impatiens cv Balsam, Snapweed, Busy Lizzie

What do I do if I have Noxious or Environmental Weeds?

You can contact Council for information regarding the treatment of noxious and or environmental weeds. Information regarding same can also be found on the websites below.

Further information

Rabbits

Oryctolagus cuniculus Tasmania 2

Feral rabbits are an ongoing concern for Mosman residents because of the damage they cause to lawns, garden beds and vegetable gardens. Mosman Council is committed to controlling the feral rabbit population on public land through a year round program of integrated pest management.

Rabbits can adapt to a wide range of habitats and prefer short grassed areas or areas containing harbour such as under rock shelves, fallen logs or in dense vegetation in bushland. In an urban environment, they often take up residence under houses, where the dwelling is elevated or there are floor cavities, such as the bangalow style houses found in Mosman. Where possible, ensure access to these areas on your property is sealed.

Where rabbits are causing damage on private property Council can assist the resident by loaning a cage trap for use on their land (conditions apply – see ‘Rabbit Cage Trapping – Conditions, Procedures and Monitoring Sheet’).

For more information contact the Bushcare Officer on 9978 4038 or bushcare@mosman.nsw.gov.au

Rats

rat

Rats are a well-known urban pest, but uncommon in a properly maintained environment. There are two methods that can be used to control rats on your property. These methods are either live trap or lethal traps.

Live traps are those that do not kill the animal. Due to the stress the animal suffers while confined, this is the least preferred method however this can be managed by regularly checking the trap. Once trapped the trapped rat will need to be humanely euthanised.

Lethal Traps are those that kill the animal and are considered the most humane method. The RSPCA recommends the use of snap traps. Ensure the tapis well-made and of suitable size for the target animal. Traps should be regularly checked each morning to ensure trapped animals are dead.

To reduce your chances of developing a rat problem you can do the following:

In your home

  • Store loose food, including pet food, in secure plastic, glass or metal containers with tight lids.
  • Do not leave food out overnight, including pet food.
  • Secure your property: check for holes and cracks in your walls and make sure you have screens on your windows and doors.

Outside your home

  • Remove weeds and debris from around buildings to reduce hiding opportunities.
  • Store firewood, garden supplies and other materials on elevated platforms. Eliminate other nesting opportunities.
  • Store rubbish in council provided bins. Waste should be stored in metal or plastic bins with secure lids.

Is the rat native?

Local land managers have been involved in the reintroduction of a native bush rat back into the regions’ bushland areas in an effort to drive out the introduced Black Rat. The bush rat or Bogul, prefers a dense bushland setting so is unlikely to be found in homes and gardens. Still it is important to be aware of their presence and physical similarities.

To those unfamiliar with it, the native Ringtail Possum can also be mistaken for a rat.

For more information:
RSPCA Pest page
Taronga Zoo: Bogul

Bees and Wasps

bee

Bees and wasps can be a cause for concern, particularly for those allergic to their stings. They are more active during the warmer months when pollen is more abundant in the environment.

Solitary bees and wasps are rarely cause for concern but should be treated with respect and a safe distance where possible. There are a number of solitary bees that are native to Australia and are stingless.

When a nest is formed on private property, it is the responsibility of the owner or tenant to have the nest removed. While it is possible for anyone to remove a nest, it is recommended that a professional pest controller treat the nest. A qualified pest controller will have the proper equipment and techniques to deal with the problem safely and ethically.

On council land and buildings, please notify council so that it can be removed as soon as possible.

Termites

termites

Termites can cause significant damage to buildings and other structures by feeding on the wood components. Once in the urban environment, they will also feed on paper, fabric and other plant derived materials.

For any new structure that is susceptible to termite attack, the owner is required to install a termite barrier during the construction process. This is not a full proof solution, so the following steps will help provide effective control.

  • Regular inspect and maintain vulnerable structures.
  • Allow for easy access and good ventilation of sub-floor cavities.
  • Fix leaking pipes and fixtures, including gutters, to keep a dry environment and prevent wood rot.
  • Clear around structures ensuring the slab is free of soil and other debris.

Council will control termites in its built up areas including street trees. It will not however treat or remove termites in natural/ park areas. It is the responsibility of the property owner to protect their property against termite attack.

Common Myna

Indian Myna - copyright Australian Museum

Often referred to as the Indian Myna, these birds originate from South Asia. They are sometimes confused with the Noisy Miner, a native honey eater of no relation. The Common Myna is easily recognised by its black head, brown body and yellow mask and bill.

As opportunistic feeders, Common Mynas are attracted to outdoor food sources, such as cafes, picnic areas and backyards. Once established in these areas, they can become an annoyance to the public and drive out native birds and other wildlife.

If you are noticing Common Mynas on your property the first step is to remove potential food sources. Do not leave food out for pets or wildlife and ensure that all food scraps are collected after eating outdoors. Make sure your garbage bins and compost are covered.

To prevent breeding opportunities, undertake building proofing measures to prevent Common Mynas from nesting or roosting on your property. In addition, plant native trees and shrubs to remove roosts from your garden. Common Mynas favour exotic trees with dense foliage, particularly palms.

Trapping is another option that should only be considered if all other options have been exhausted. DPI protocol on trapping pest birds must be followed. Selective traps can be purchased or constructed that will not affect native species. Traps should be checked regularly to prevent any undue stress to trapped animals. All trapped animals need to be euthanized and disposed of in accordance with DPI guidelines.

Nuisance Native Animals

There are a number of native animals that may be considered by some persons to be a pest in the urban environment. They can damage gardens and property and disturb us with their nocturnal activities.

It is important to remember that all native wildlife is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. By clearing and fragmenting their habitat for development, people are driving wildlife into urban areas creating these conflicts.

The best approach is to try and coexist with native fauna. This can be a rewarding and educational experience.

As a general guideline, do not feed wildlife as this will attract them to your yard and create an expectation to be fed. Instead plant locally sourced native plants to provide foraging opportunities for a range of native animals.

For sick or injured animals contact Sydney Wildlife or WIRES.

Brush Turkeys (Alectura lathami)

Brush Turkey

The Australian Brush Turkey has been making a return to the urbanised areas of Sydney over the last few decades. They have become quite common in the Mosman area since 2010. As the population increases, it is becoming more common in backyards, disturbing gardens in the process.

The Brush Turkey is not a new arrival to the region. During the Great Depression the species was consumed and was pushed to the brink of extinction. Their recent success has been attributed to the ongoing progress of restoring our bushland, feral animal control and a shift away from the traditional cottage garden concept of landscaping.

Their presence, if planned and managed for, can be beneficial as they provide natural pest control against insects and snails. The following tips can help you maintain a Brush Turkey friendly garden.

  • If you have the space, allow an area of the garden for Brush Turkeys to be active to distract them from the rest of the yard. They will only build nests in high shade areas, under a tree. Provide them with mulch to make nests in these areas.
  • Plant out garden beds with dense, low-growing native ground covers and place logs and branches to deter scratching in valued areas.
  • Alternatively, use coarse mulch that is hard to scratch up or peg chicken wire over the beds to prevent scratching.
  • Plant only when Brush Turkeys’ are not actively nest building (February – August). The earlier the better, to give plants time to establish.
  • Use plant guards around particularly valuable or vulnerable plants.

For more information:
Brush-turkeys in your garden [PDF]
NSW Environment & Heritage – Australian Brush Turkey

Flying Foxes (Pteropus spp.)

There are three species of Flying Fox commonly found in Sydney. Of these the Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is most commonly encountered in urban areas. The Grey-headed Flying Fox is listed as vulnerable under Threatened Species legislation making it a crime to interfere with it.

Flying Foxes primarily eat fruit and nectar and are responsible for the pollination of many of the significant native plants, particularly Eucalypts on the east coast of Australia.

Flying Foxes are nocturnal and it is their nocturnal activities that are a problem in urban environments. They seek out flowering and fruiting trees where they spend the night feeding. During this time they can cause disturbance through excessive noise, high pitched screeching and chattering, and create a mess under their chosen tree. In these instances, the Flying Foxes will only be in the area for the few weeks of the year that the tree is a viable food source.

If you have fruit trees that you wish to protect there are a number of methods that you can implement that will not cause injury to the Flying Foxes.

Flying Foxes and Diseases

Flying Foxes on the east coast are carriers for two well-known diseases, the extent of which has been the subject of misinformation. The two diseases are Australian Bat Lussavirus and Hendra Virus.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a relative of rabies, affects about 1% of the wild bat population and can be found in both Flying Foxes and Microbats. However, sick or injured bats are much more likely to carry the virus, as their condition could be a result of infection. The virus is spread to humans by direct contact, through bites and scratches.

There are only 3 cases of people infected with Australian Bat Lyssavirus and these occurred in Queensland. A vaccine exists, and can be delivered post exposure.

Hendra Virus is primarily associated with horses but Flying Foxes are known to carry it. It is believed that horses can contract the virus from bats when they share a paddock with a colony, though the manner of infection is not understood.

There are no known cases of direct Hendra transmission from bats to humans. All cases of human infection have been a result of high exposure to the bodily fluids of infected horses. A vaccine exists for horses which should prevent further transmission to humans.

If you encounter a bat on your property do not try and handle it. Contact one of the wildlife rescue groups active in the area and they will send a qualified rescuer to retrieve the bat. If possible, isolate the animal.

For sick or injured animals contact Sydney Wildlife or WIRES.

Brushtail and Ringtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula, Psuudocherius peregrinus)

possum

Possums are nocturnal marsupials native to Australia. They are well adapted to survive in urbanised environments, which set them at odds with people.

If possums have begun occupying your roof there are several steps you can take.

  • Provide an alternative habitat arrangement, typically a nest box in a sheltered part of your garden.
  • Light your roof cavity to deter the possums from nesting. Quassia chips and blocks of camphor are also a deterrent.
  • Locate and seal the point of egress. Do so only after all the possums and any young have left the roof cavity.
  • While your roof is unoccupied, prune any tree branches (see Trees) that could allow possums to access your roof.

You can attract the possums to the new nest box by placing the old dray in the nest box and leaving a few pieces of fruit in the vicinity.

Their presence in our homes is due to the lack of tree hollows in the surrounding environment. Suitable hollows for possums can take up to 200 hundred years to form through natural processes. It is important to consider the wide variety of ecosystem functions that native trees provide when planning to remove them.

Possums can do significant damage to fruit trees when in season. The best method is to completely cover at risk trees in shade cloth, pegging it into the ground around the base. Alternatively, you can place paper bags over ripening fruit.

For more information:
Wildlife Friendly Netting [PDF]
NSW Environment & Heritage Brush-tailed possum