Fire ants, stink bugs and varroa mite: Australian biosecurity explained in new video series

July 21, 2022

As an island nation, Australia is lucky to have geographically isolated borders to help to protect us from imported pests and diseases. But we still need a strong biosecurity system to ensure that we prevent threats to agriculture, natural environments and human health from entering Australia.

The Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA) supports the Australian and New Zealand governments to protect their nations from biosecurity threats. The Australian Academy of Science recently worked with CEBRA to produce a series of videos which describe how the research behind biosecurity and its practical implications are so important.

Current major biosecurity threats include xylella plant infections, the brown marmorated stink bug, foot-and-mouth disease, rabies, varroa mite, African swine fever and red imported fire ants. These threats could cost billions to our economy, harm on our native ecosystems and even threaten our way of life.

“We’ve got a really long history of being able to remain free of all sorts of different harmful pests and diseases, and that’s why we operate such a comprehensive biosecurity system – because we want to keep it that way,” Deputy Director of CEBRA, Dr Aaron Dodd, says in the first video in the series, which provides an overview on the need for biosecurity systems.

The second video uses the example of the brown marmorated stink bug, a small insect with a big appetite. This stink bug is a voracious eater, and there are around 300 plant species currently grown in Australia that are at risk if the brown marmorated stink bug finds its way into Australian crops.

The final video explains how Australia is currently struggling with a super-pest, the red imported fire ant. It has the potential to drive some native plant and animal species to extinction, if not appropriately controlled. Monitoring and detection techniques are crucial for keeping the fire ant populations down.

The three videos in partnership with CEBRA are part of the Academy’s ‘Research Focus’ series, which creates unique digital video content to show the depth and breadth of Australian research that is sometimes unknown to the public and decision-makers.

The benefits of sharing research include the potential for further support and funding, and to encourage better understanding within the community about the benefits of public investment in research. The Academy has more than 2.5 million followers on social media – one of the largest social media followings of any Australian science organisation. It produces accurate, trusted and engaging science content that is read and shared by millions across the globe.

Find out more about partnering with the Academy on video production.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science

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