Gidyea bugs back in town

North west Qld suffering new influx of gidyea bugs

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The seething mass of insects that descends upon north west Queensland soon after rain is back with a vengeance.

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Drinks anyone? First wipe off some of the millions of gidyea bugs clinging to every surface in north west Queensland at the moment, including this esky. Pictures- Emma Forster.

Drinks anyone? First wipe off some of the millions of gidyea bugs clinging to every surface in north west Queensland at the moment, including this esky. Pictures- Emma Forster.

The seething mass of insects that descends upon north west Queensland soon after rain is back with a vengeance.

Residents from Winton to Julia Creek and all points in between are reporting an influx of the infamous gidyea bug, clogging up rest area toilets where night lights shine, splitting power poles with their weight, and spilling out of ceilings.

The bugs, often described as a type of stink beetle, are attracted to light and are one of the negatives that comes with rain, according to retiring McKinlay shire mayor Belinda Murphy.

"They're the bane of everyone's existence here (at Julia Creek) at the moment," she said. "You get in the routine at home of having dinner done before dark."

Residents with streetlights in close proximity to their homes have been approaching council with requests to turn them off, which Cr Murphy said they were willingly considering in conjunction with Ergon Energy, providing public safety wasn't compromised.

Down the road at Kynuna, Blue Heeler publican Chris Roberts said the street light in front of the pub may as well not be on most nights, thanks to the blacking out effect of the bugs surrounding it.

"We're inundated," he said. "Patrons are understanding. I clean them out every morning and they come back every night."

The gidyea bugs have padded out the bark of this tree trunk at Werna north west of Winton.

The gidyea bugs have padded out the bark of this tree trunk at Werna north west of Winton.

According to Mr Roberts, the weight of them piling on top of one another split a power pole in the town.

"And I'm determined to get the pool room painted but it looks a bit like rice bubbles," he laughed, determined to keep the post-rain phenomenon in perspective.

While the writhing mass has been gracing Kynuna with its presence for about three weeks, they only arrived in the Winton area this week.

Emma Forster said they hadn't had any at Werna, 70km north west of the town, until 70mm of rain fell in Winton on Tuesday night.

The tennis court beside the homestead has been converted into a roping arena where the Forsters train under lights at night in summer to escape the heat of the day.

They had to abandon ship, so to speak, when the insects began invading.

Ms Forster said they had set up a generator with a light in a dead tree about 300m from the house in an attempt to lure them away from the house, where she feared the smell of a pile of dead insects would overpower them.

The Forsters have rigged up a generator and a light to draw the bugs away from their Winton property homestead.

The Forsters have rigged up a generator and a light to draw the bugs away from their Winton property homestead.

Thankfully it made a big difference to the swarm at the house and they plan to continue doing it.

There is not much mention of gidyea bugs in online literature, except for a brief note by the Queensland Museum's Christine Lambkin on the ResearchGate website.

She said it had been determined to be Cephaloplatus pallipes and appeared to "form huge aggregations as adults about eight weeks following flooding".

"There is an approximate 50/50 sex ratio in the adults flying towards lights, active between dusk and dawn, and moving upwards on any standing object," she said. " While they stink, they also leave an oily residue where they have been. And I am told, they burn well!"

Cr Murphy said based on past experience, long-suffering north westerners could expect the invasion to die down by May or a couple of weeks earlier.

"It doesn't last forever, and at least we have green grass to look at," she said.

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