Caterpillar plagues regularly visited the Shoalhaven district in the second half of the 19th century, causing great problems for those who earned their living from the land.
Perhaps the worst instance occurred in 1870 when they were prevalent for a month.
According to the Shoalhaven News, they were "clearing the land, taking peas, potatoes, even onions, eating off the trees, apples, nectarines and maize".
These plagues are induced by weather conditions that initially favour egg-laying and survival of the early stage caterpillars, and then became unsuitable for the natural control agents - predatory birds, disease and predatory and parasitic insects.
An early plague came in 1858 when one writer described them as "a regular army", crossing a road to attack a wheat crop at Nowra Hill.
A few years later the caterpillars were in the vicinity of Nowra near the Shoalhaven River, and determined to stop them from reaching his Greenhills Estate, James Graham senior ploughed several furrows from the bridge over Hyams Creek to the riverbank.
Local businessman George Tory let him have a ton of lime freshly arrived from Sydney, and it was scattered in the furrows to good effect. Some 35 years later Tory recalled the incident, "Next morning the dead caterpillars could be shovelled up and removed in cartloads; and the caterpillars did not get across the road to Greenhills".
In 1892 John Hay was looking forward to harvesting his barley paddock on the Coolangatta Estate. The crop was two feet high and a yield of 30 bushels to the acre was expected, but in three days it was completely destroyed by caterpillars, with the scene resembling something cut with a scythe.
At the same time flying foxes were of great concern to the farming community and especially those with fruit trees.
In 1882 a meeting of prominent citizens fixed the scale of prices to be paid for the destruction of flying foxes which were described as "vermin".
One penny per scalp was offered, and it was estimated that one well-aimed shot at the roost of the mammals could bring down half a dozen - proving profitable for the sportsman.
Budgong had a large population and early in the 20th century a party of 26 shooters visited that district on "a flying fox annihilation expedition".
A report in the Nowra Leader stated, "Notwithstanding the numbers destroyed, it was a drop in the ocean, for there are tens of thousands in the camp".
Around World War I the "flying fox pest" was regularly discussed by Shoalhaven Agricultural and Horticultural Society, and it had an ally in the fruit inspector and orchardist George Jones.
They regularly organised trips to Budgong, and one member offered a lorry to transport the shooters.
In 1920 the A. and H. was paying half the scalp bonus, but the flying fox continued to thrive.
The same organisation also played an active role in trying to eliminate sparrows from our landscape.
In 1904 it offered 2d a dozen for sparrow eggs and 4d a dozen for heads, and two special prizes of £2/2/- were given by Charles Lamond for the highest tallies of heads.
"The sparrow war should provide profitable sport for the boys," observed the Shoalhaven Telegraph.
One meeting the following year authorised payment for 288 heads and 2,483 eggs.
Sparrow shooting was reported as a legitimate sport in 1908 with Saturday afternoon events held at Nowra and also at Tomerong where locals were keen to form a Sparrow Club.