Pantry blitz helps keep agriculture safe

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Entomologist Rob Emery says the pantry blitz provides evidence about the absence and presence of pests and diseases that could threaten WA’s agricultural industries. Picture: DPIRD

THE 2017 pantry blitz biosecurity surveillance campaign has been hailed a success, with report numbers exceeding last year’s inaugural event.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development received nearly 2600 reports from throughout the state and beyond, during the campaign last month.

The most common household insects reported were cigarette and carpet beetles, which are related to the khapra beetle – a significant pest of the grains industry not found in Australia – but which themselves do not pose a threat to agricultural crops.

Principal entomologist Rob Emery said the reports would be harnessed by the department’s market access databank to assist Western Australian agricultural exports.

“The public’s participation in pantry blitz is vital, providing verifiable evidence about the absence and presence of pests and diseases that might threaten our agricultural industries,” he said.

“This information will help to demonstrate area freedom from biosecurity threats, which will help WA to maintain and develop valuable export opportunities.”

Pantry blitz participants were given a free trap that contained pheromones to attract the khapra beetle as well as several other common insect pests.

Participants reported the presence and absence of trapped insects via the department’s free MyPestGuide reporter app.

Mr Emery said more than 5000 reports had been received during the 2016 and 2017 pantry blitzes.

“We now have the best evidence in Australia that khapra beetle has not been detected in WA, as a result of the pantry blitz response,” he said.

“This information will be added to the national repository, AUSPestCheck, to aid ongoing biosecurity surveillance, which is essential to ensure market access.”

“The MyPestGuide reporter app gives each report scientific validity, with the addition of photographs, barcode, timestamp and location data.

The MyPestGuide reporter app can be downloaded free from either the Google Play store or the App Store.

Reports can also be made to the department’s pest and disease information service 9368 3080 or email padis@dpird.wa.gov.au