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Australia's Most Unbelievable True Stories
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Australia's pricly pear problem dates back to the founder of Brit settlement, Captain Arthur Phillip, who loaded up with the planr in S America en route with the First Fleet. Phillip wanted it to feed cochineal beetles which provide a brilliant scarlet dye when squashed.
But the prickly pear, with no native predator, infested miilions of acres of prime grazing land in NSW and Q'land. Scientists tried a variety of cactus eating bugs until they lit upon the Cactoblastis moth, which promptlywiped out the whole infestation. A few speculators became seriously rich from the land they had bought for practically nothing, establishing grazing families still going strong today.
Unlike the cane toad, which ate virtually everything but the sugar cane pests it was imported for, the moth ate nothing else than prickly pear, so ate itself into extinction.
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