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Spring prompts citizen scientists to Biosecurity Blitz bugs

As the weather warms up and more insects are active around homes and gardens, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is encouraging Western Australians to participate in the third annual Biosecurity Blitz.

Insects enjoy warm, dry weather, so spring is the ideal time for people to get outside and participate in the biosecurity surveillance activity that runs over a two-week period, from 18 to 30 September.

Department development officer Laura Fagan said the Biosecurity Blitz helped detect animal and insect pests, weeds and diseases before they had a chance to spread and harm the State’s agrifood industries or the environment.

“To participate, simply download the free MyPestGuide Reporter app to a mobile device, look around gardens or local bushland for a potential pest and report back to the department using the app,” Ms Fagan said.

“Reports of pests are analysed by department experts and identifications sent back, allowing you to learn more about both beneficial insects and harmful pests.

“Participants’ reports help provide a snapshot of Western Australia’s biosecurity status and support claims of area freedom from specific exotic pests and diseases to ensure access to premium markets.

“The Biosecurity Blitz is suitable for people of all ages. I encourage everyone to join in this ‘citizen science’ activity and send in their pest reports.”

Ms Fagan said people could incorporate biosecurity surveillance in their leisure activities by keeping their phone handy when gardening or walking and taking photos of interesting insects.

Parents could organise a ‘bug hunt’ in the garden or bushland for young children and older children and adults could create a pest diary of their day trip, camping holiday, or daily walk.

MyPestGuide Reporter app allows people to send up to four photographs to the department for identification. Participants without a smartphone or tablet can submit reports using the MyPestGuide Reporter tool on the department website.

At the conclusion of the activity, department staff will collate all data and publish a summary report online.

Biosecurity Blitz 2017 is part of the department’s Boosting Biosecurity Defences project, supported by Royalties for Regions.

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