Doing It with Dung Project Report December 2022

Dung beetle and its larvae

Bubus Bubalus

It has certainly been a challenging, confusing and somewhat disappointing year for our breeding program. Those who received bubalus in August 2021 have not reported any hatchings at all. In light of this, I recently wrote to Greg Dalton, the breeder and supplier of our beetles, to ask whether we should continue placing a fresh dung pat in to see if any beetles emerge.

He suggests we still put 1 kg of fresh dung fortnightly until the end December. Make sure dung has been stored 3 days before putting it out as at this time of year the small summer beetles will very quickly find their way to fresh dung pats and these will hopefully have drowned after 3 days. Better still collect fresh dung early before the sun is up and the beetles are awake.

Grass is growing like crazy and we still need to keep this down in the tents so we can observe any beetle activity.

Those who received bubalus this spring are reporting that they are still consuming dung and most people are on to the second lap of their tents. Last year we found dead beetles in the tent towards the end of December and that dung burial ceased in early January. But who would know this year? It would be good if you could please take note and record when this happens. Beetles will then have laid their eggs which hopefully will hatch early next spring. Thank you to all who have been part of this breeding program. Hopefully you are willing to hang in there for another year in the hope that the delayed hatching of bubalus may result in a bumper year next spring. If you do not want to continue and have tents you would like to return please let me know and we can arrange to pick these up.

Onthophagus Vacca (image by: Mid Lachlan Landcare)

Onthophagus Vacca

Those who received vacca in January 2022 have had very mixed hatchings this spring.However my vacca started hatching yesterday on the 12th December. This hatching is part of the vacca lifecycle and these F1 beetles are the result of the breeding process. These newly hatched beetles will only feed, not breed, and then remain in the ground until re-emerging next spring so feed them up well.Luckily I had just cut the grass and put fresh dung in the tent but was not expecting any action for a couple of weeks as last year they did not hatch till early January.

Greg Dalton from Creation Care has made the following suggestions regarding newly hatched beetles.

  1. Catch,count and transfer to another tent (more work but better data)
  2. Feed in the same tent and wait till spring 2023 to release. (Less work and less information
    but still gets the Beatles through till spring 2023.)

Victorian Landcare Grants- Watchingora Creek Project

Mitta Valley Landcare (MVL) held another planting day on Wednesday 5th October at Lew and Felicity McDonalds property on the Watchingora Creek. The project included fencing of 430 metres of creek frontage, with a focus on stabilising the banks and preventing water runoff. Over 600 indigenous plant species have been planted.

To establish this site, a mix of plants were chosen to thrive in wet, soggy, ground, and support deep rooted growth while creating habitat. The plant list consisted of Banksia marginata (Silver Banksia), Bursaria spinosa (Sweet Bursaria), Callistemon pallidus (Lemon Bottlebrush), Carex sp. (Common Sedge, Eucalyptus ovata (Swamp Gum), Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum), Kunzea ericoides (Burgan), Lomandra longifilia (Spiny headed mat rush), Melicia dentatus (Tree Violet), Mirbelia oxylyobioides (Mountain Mirbelia), Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood), Callistemon sieberi (River Bottlebrush), Eucalyptus radiata (Narrow-leaf Peppermint), Leptospermum brevipes (Slender Tea Tree), Leptospermum continentale (Prickly Tea Tree), and Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock). Audrey Beard for coordinating the species schedule.

The Watchingora Creek was also surveyed as part of the Platypus Citizen Science Program in 2022 and members of our Mitta Valley Landcare group took samples from this stream as well as Banimboola Creek and the Mitta River. Platypi are regularly sited along Watchingora Creek. The Callaghan Creek area is also habitat for the Emu and small groups are often spotted along the valley.

A delicious home-made lunch and coffee was provided by the Witches Garden, a beautiful open garden owned by the McDonalds. The planting volunteers were also treated to a walk through the Gardens.

Report by Libby Paton, Project Officer.

Watchingora creek

Murray Darling Healthy Rivers Program Springpol Gully Stabilisation and Revegetation Project

On Friday 30th September, Mitta Valley Landcare coordinated a planting day at Springpol, on the Dartmouth Road, Dartmouth. This project involved revegetating a gully running into the Mitta River. Eight hundred native species were planted by a team of Mitta Valley Landcare volunteers and property managers Chloe Giltrap and Tim

To establish this site, a mix of plants were chosen to thrive in a soil contrast of very dry to very wet, soggy ground, with an emphasis to support the exiting banks and create habitat. The plant list consisted of Acacia dealbata (Silver Wattle), Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood), Callistemon sieberi (River Bottlebrush), Eucalyptus camphora (Mountain Swamp Gum), Eucalyptus globubas (Blue Gum), Eucalyptus radiata (Narrow-leaf Peppermint), Kunzea ericoides (Burgan), Leptospermums brevipes (Slender Tea Tree), Leptospermum continentale (Prickly Tea Tree), Lomandra longifolia (Spiny Headed Mat Ruch), and Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock). The plan for revegetation was completed by Audrey Beard. 

A total area of 1.46ha was revegetated. The area was already fenced off with wildlife friendly fencing. (-36.518625, 147.451135) The area is characterised by woody grass lands and has existing river red gum, blue gum, and stringy bark trees along the near bye Mitta River. The area has also been habitat for barking owl and platypus.

Catering was provided by Dartmouth Hotel.

Report by Libbe Paton

Springpol planting day

Murray Darling Healthy Rivers Program Mittavale Wetland, Mitta

On Friday 12th August, Mitta Valley Landcare) held another successful planting day at Chloe Giltrap Mittavale property on the Mitta River. Sixteen landcaers and family turned out to plant 600 native species around a wetland, off the Mitta River. The existing EVC Vegetation Class includes River Red Gums, sedges and tussocks. The wetland is a habitat for the Growling Grass Frog.

The current wetland eco system will benefit from an extensive mixed plant list consisting of Acaia melanoxylon (Blackwood), Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum), Eucalyptus melliodora, (Yellow Box), Bursaria spinosa (Sweet Bursaria), Callistemon sieberi (River Bottlebrush), Callistemon pallidus (Lemon Bottlebrush), Grevillea rosmarinifolia (Rosemary Grevillea), Kunzea ericoides (Burgan), Leptospermum brevipes (Slender Tee Tree), Melicytus dentatus (Tree Violet), Carex sp. (Commeon Sedge), Lomandra longifolia (Spiny Headed Mat Rush), and Poa labillardieri (Common Tussock). Project Officer Audrey Beard f coordinated and ordered the species schedule.

Catering for the day was provided by Eskdale CafĂ©, a locally owned and operated business. 

The ability to offer fencing and revegetation projects in the local community is due to funding from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Murray Darling Healthy Rivers Program. The program aims to support community-led, on the ground projects, and improve the health and ecological condition of rivers and wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin whilst supporting economic development and jobs.