Screenshot from 7News

The windblown nuisance is actually named “Hairy Panic.”

The Australian city of Wangaratta is being eaten up by a tumbleweed going by the grimly apt name of “Hairy Panic,” according to reports by Australia’s 7 News.

Following an especially dry summer, the town in the state of Victoria is being engulfed by layer upon layer of windblown diaspore, arriving in such large quantities that it can reach up to a house’s roof within a few hours. Locals are being forced to clear out the weed several times a day, only to find it furring up their walls again like some giant beard just a few hours later.

A Wangaratta resident inspects her back porch. (Screenshot via 7News)
Aside from the inconvenience, the huge quantities of weed are a fire risk, surrounding homes with a thick layer of super-dry tinder during a season when the danger of bush fires is especially high. Wangaratta residents are understandably exhausted. "It's physically draining and mentally more draining," one resident told 7 News. Jason Perna, a neighbor similarly afflicted, observed that cleaning up was extremely frustrating:

“You know that you've got a good couple of hours work ahead of you and that's always sort of displeasing."

These huge piles of Hairy Panic—Latin name: Panicum Effusum—aren’t all that common. Wangaratta residents believe the unusually high volume comes from a neglected paddock nearby, whose owner has literally let it run to weeds. Beyond posing a fire risk and a potential hazard for sheep, the plant itself isn’t inherently harmful. But as the video below shows, the diaphanous, ghostly coating it has given to Wangaratta’s houses takes some dealing with.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    What Happens When a City Tries to End Traffic Deaths

    Several years into a ten-year “Vision Zero” target, some cities that took on a radical safety challenge are seeing traffic fatalities go up.

  2. photo: Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar
    Equity

    What a Trillion-Dollar Housing Pledge Looks Like

    Representative Ilhan Omar’s Homes for All Act would fund the construction of 12 million new homes in the U.S. over 10 years, mostly as public housing.  

  3. photo: a WeWork office
    Equity

    For Many WeWork Employees, the Job Is About to Change

    The co-working giant is letting 2,400 employees go and outsourcing 1,000 cleaning and facilities jobs as part of a company-wide belt-tightening.

  4. Life

    Talent May Be Shifting Away From Superstar Cities

    According to a new analysis, places away from the coasts in the Sunbelt and West are pulling ahead when it comes to attracting talented workers.

  5. photo: A Starship Technologies commercial delivery robot navigates a sidewalk.
    POV

    My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot

    A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that the needs of people with disabilities need to be engineered into our autonomous future.

×