John Mann MBE

Mr Chancellor 

John Mann was born in Greenmount, Queensland. He joined the staff of the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board in February 1923, later becoming Research Entomologist to that Board. In 1940, he was appointed Entomologist to the Department of Lands, Queensland, and, from 1962-70, as Director of the Alan Fletcher Research Station, he directed all of the research work in the chemical and biological control of weeds. 

His interest in insects reminds one of Gulliver on his voyage to Brobdingnag when he expressed his amazement that an insect as impotent and grovelling as he could entertain such inhuman ideas. For insects are crafty creatures so it requires great skill and understanding to overcome their depredations. John Mann is such a person. If you understand them thoroughly you can tum their hunger to good purpose as a means of biological control of weed pests. An outstanding example of this occurred during the 1920s. 
At that time about 60 million acres of some of the best agricultural land in Queensland and New South Wales were infested with Prickly Pear, spreading at a rate of one million acres per year. 

While others were involved in the research and development work on the control of this pest in Australia, John Mann was the first to raise generations of an exotic insect, Cactoblastis cactorum, whose progeny were released ultimately to destroy the bulk of that noxious weed. 

The success of the campaign against Prickly Pear has been of incalculable value in enabling agricultural developments in very large areas of eastern Australia. However, with this major achievement of 1925, John Mann had only just begun his significant contributions to the control of pests which plagued the Australian countryside. 

The outcome has been, to use the words of Shelley, that

"The world's great age begins anew
The golden years return 
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn." 

In 1932 he reared and distributed the Cochineal Insect Dactylopius austrinus which controlled and eradicated many thousands of acres of the Tiger Pear weed pest. He imported the gall fly from Mexico via Hawaii and used it to control Crofton weed which had infested south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales. Other work included surveys of insects associated with Lantana; the use of insects to control Noogoora Burr which affected wool; and the collection of insects from overseas to control the Harrisia Cactus. 
He represented Queensland on the Australian Weeds Committee, was Chairman of the Noxious Weeds Committee of the Co-ordinating Board, and a member of several committees dealing with control of weeds. 

He has published widely and lectured throughout Queensland on weed control to almost every local authority and to many graziers and other organisations. 

The recognition of his achievements is reflected in his Fellowship of the Royal Zoological Society, Fellowship of the Royal Entomological Society and life-membership of the Queensland Entomological Society. The culminating honour was his appointment in January 1970 as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 

Mr Chancellor, for service to agriculture and entomology in the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Queensland, I present to you John Mann, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society and Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, for admission to the Degree of Doctor of Agricultural Science, honoris causa. 

Awards

Doctor of Agricultural Science honoris causa
1983