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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Prickly Pears

Where I come from we eat these for breakfast.The fruits that is.

I caught sight of this prickly pear on our way to Mount Maroon. We stopped here to get a good look at the mountain we were going to conquer and to enjoy the view.
A Cypriot prickly pear in flower 
Mount Maroon.

I had just read a short article in the Australian National Geographic May- June edition 2016 by Netsuke Penberthy about the Prickly Pear. This was one case where a concerted control programme worked beautifully and it is an interesting story.

Australia seems to be a continent where species are introduced but spiral out of control. There are lots of examples of this starting from the introduction of rabbits by the First Fleet, which devastated crops, to cane toads introduced to eradicate the beetles ravaging the sugar cane crops and now reeking havoc, feral pigs, camels, whose numbers are out of control and rats brought over in the boats. 

The prickly pear arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. They needed red dye for the coats of the British soldiers and the only way they could get this dye was from cochineal bugs which fed on the prickly pear plants. This practice was soon given up in favour of an artificial dye but the prickly pears began to spread and by the 1920s they had become a plague on farms and pastures in Queensland,  the size of the UK.

The government sent experts all over the world to find an answer to this terrible problem. They didn't know at that time that Cypriots would happily eat all the fruit and tame the monster....

In Argentina they found a grey moth called Cactoblastis Cactorum and they were brought back to Australia and released in Queensland and New South Wales in 1926. "By 1932 the cactus infestation had been nibbled into oblivion by millions of moth larvae" says the article. An example of a successful biocontrol programme. 

More about a different kind of blaster in my next blog. 

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