Big vacuums could combat 'hairy panic' in Australia city

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Media caption'Hairy panic' tumbleweeds invade Australia town

A rural Australian city is considering vacuuming away "hairy panic" tumbleweed that is clogging up homes.

Substantial rainfall followed by dry conditions has caused a "hairy panic explosion" in Wangaratta, Victoria.

Frustrated residents say they have spent hours each day clearing the weeds, with piles at times reaching roof height.

Now the council says it is considering attaching large vacuums to street sweepers to deal with the problem.

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Image caption Locals have used leaf blowers to clear the enormous piles of hairy panic from their houses

Wangaratta Council emergency management co-ordinator Jamie McCaffrey told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that residents may also be provided with bins, as hairy panic made an excellent composting material.

The small city of 27,000 people made global headlines yesterday after a local television station captured footage of tumbleweed piled several metres high around homes.

Mr McCaffrey said only a small part of the town on the edge of an area earmarked for housing development was affected.

The hairy panic was mostly originating from an area that was formerly farmland and is currently unused, he said.

"People are coming down like with the Christmas lights - they want to have a look at the bad hairy panic," Mr McCaffrey said.

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

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