Why is it a problem?
Cactus species thrive in arid and semi-arid regions making valuable pasture species inaccessible to livestock and blocking access to water and other resources. The spines on the fruit, when consumed by livestock, cause abscesses and secondary infections while the seeds block the stomach resulting in death. The spines on the cladodes can pierce the eyes of livestock causing blindness.
- Harmful to livestock
- Loss of land
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
What’s the solution?
Manual removal is often unsuccessful as the plant is able to completely regrow if the smallest bit of root is left in the soil.
By time herbicides began being used as a control method, most clusters of Opuntia were too mature for chemical control to be effective. Small, isolated clusters can be controlled, but this method of control requires substantial investment, for a very small effect.
The introduction of Cactoblastis cactorum has been used across Africa to try to control Opuntia. There has been a noticeable reduction in both the size and the density of the plants since the release. Unfortunately, it has been reported that Cactorum causes the plant to fragment, which can cause it to root and regrow.