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Answered 2012-05-23 11:23:36

Prickly Pear Cactus (native South American), was brought to Australia in 1788 on the First Fleet. It became a pest, quickly overrunning many thousand acres of farmland. To combat it, the caterpillar/moth Cactoblastis (also South American native), was introduced in the 1920s.

Wildly successful, it practically eliminated the spiny exotic in a few years. defeated.

Hence, CACTUS, in Australian slang, means: beaten, finished, ruined, kaput etc.

e.g. Jim threw just two punches, and Jack was cactus.

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