The town of Wangaratta in Victoria, Australia, is being invaded by “hairy panic.” While that might make you think of a monster, it is actually a type of grass (Panicum effusum) that dries up in drought conditions and blows in the wind like tumbleweeds.
The weeds are waist deep in places, and blown against buildings, they can reach roof level.
A council spokesman told Guardian Australia there was not much that could be done “from an enforcement side of things, through local laws,” to control the tumbleweed’s spread, though it was investigating potential controls for next year. “The council has a very limited capacity to intervene, but we are attempting to work with residents and nearby farmers.”
On Friday morning street sweepers would “attempt to clean up the mess”, he said. “We don’t know how effective it’s going to be until we try.”
Though there was often hairy panic in Wangaratta, he said, it had been particularly bad this summer. “It’s widespread. It can happen in any town, at any time, and it does happen in Wangaratta. It just spreads from farm to farm.”