Australia town consumed by 'hairy panic'

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Media caption'Hairy panic' tumbleweeds invade Australia town

A fast-growing tumbleweed called "hairy panic" is clogging up homes in a small Australian town.

Extremely dry conditions mean the weeds pile up each day outside a row of homes at Wangaratta, in Victoria's northeast.

Frustrated residents are forced to clear out the weeds for several hours every day, with piles of hairy panic at times reaching roof height.

A nearby farmer is being blamed for failing to tend to his paddock.

"It's physically draining and mentally more draining," resident Pam Twitchett told Prime7 News Albury.

What is hairy panic?

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Image caption "It's not funny anymore": Wild tumbleweeds have left residents in a rural Australian town exhausted
  • Also known by its Latin name Panicum effusum, it is a grass that is found in every Australian state
  • It's called "hairy" because while there are a number of other Panicum species, none have long hairs along the edges of their leaves
  • It grows rapidly and can form tumbleweeds which are dead grass with seeds inside designed to disperse them for reproduction
  • It can cause a potentially fatal condition called "yellow big head" in sheep if eaten in large quantities

Image copyright 7News
Image caption Frustrated residents say they are tired of clearing out the weeds

Wangaratta veterinary surgeon Richard Evans told the BBC the weed would lose its toxicity once it dried up.

"The important thing is it's not going to kill people's dogs and cats, it just makes a hell of a mess," he said.

Authorities are unable to help with the clean-up because the tumbleweeds do not pose a fire threat, reports say.

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