Global warming and climate change have produced unusually dry conditions in Australia this past year, prompting a bizarre invasion of a species worthy of nightmares – well at least for the residents of southeastern Australia who say the “hairy panic” tumbleweeds are burying their cars, covering doorways, and piling up on roofs of houses.
The weeds, officially known as Panicum effusum, have invaded Wangaratta, an inland town in the Australian state of Victoria. Residents are blaming the outbreak on a single farmer whom they said failed to plant one of his fields this season allowing the weed to run rampant. One resident wrote on Facebook:
“Hope the person who owns the out-of-control paddocks in our area gets notified to do something because this is a joke and the whole estate is sick of it!”
The weed, which is called “hairy panic” because of the long hairs along the edges of their leaves, can cause a potentially fatal condition called “yellow big head” in sheep if eaten in large quantities.
Residents are attempting to use leaf blowers to clear the weeds and say the city has offered no help with the cleanup.