If you are out and about this summer, have a go at observing and identifying insects — this is a fun activity and it can also be a great way to help save Australia from damaging pests.
Tim Low and the Invasive Species Council have created the Insect Watch portal, which you can explore through our website.
The portal profiles just some of the overseas insect species that would pose significant threats to Australia – environmental and economic – if they ever became established in our country.
Some insects listed (four ants and two bees) occur in limited areas of Australia already. The other species are not, as far as we know, found in Australia, although most have been intercepted multiple times at the border.
Portals and guides like this are needed as the Australian Government concedes it can’t keep out all the harmful pests roaming the globe. That’s where you can help, as all Australians can be part of detecting harmful new pests that might make it to our shores.
If you find an insect you can’t identify and it is not in the Insect Watch portal, don’t automatically assume it is a native species. The insects listed on Insect Watch are those that are particularly worrying to Australia’s biodiversity and feasible for the non-scientist to identify. Once you have found a suspect insect, you need to report it to authorities for official confirmation. Many of these species are difficult to identify definitively.
If you have strong reasons to suspect you have found something that shouldn’t be here, phone the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, listed on the Plant Health Australia website.
Happy insect spotting!