Locusts concerns rise, again

23 Mar, 2001 01:33 PM
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FARMERS are being urged to be on the lookout for locusts after early sightings in the eastern Wheatbelt region.

The move comes after graingrowers reported large numbers of locust hoppers (up to 100 per square metre) in the Mt Marshall, Mukinbudin, Southern Cross, Merredin and Kellerberrin districts.

Agwest Geraldton entomologist Kevin Walden said while it was unusual to see locust activity this early in the year, it was premature to speculate about another locust outbreak and still too early to tell if the numbers would be as big as last year.

"Locusts normally go unnoticed at this time of year so there are either more of them around or farmers are still highly sensitive to them after last year," he said.

Mr Walden said the locusts sightings had been reported in areas which had received heavy rainfall over summer, and that the numbers in these areas were varied.

"There are some fairly small localised density populations and some very large localised density populations," he said.

Mr Walden said it was also too early to tell is they were early hatchings from what remained of last year's locusts or whether they had recently migrated from pastoral regions.

"We need to find out how many there are to see what sort of population we've got, against the amount of rainfall or green feed there is in these areas," he said.

Farmers should be aware that locusts are in the area "because if we get an early break to the season the major concern will be emerging crop damage".

"The reports we've had so far suggest these are very young hoppers. By looking at the rainfall results we can determine whether these locusts have come out of dormancy or they are locusts that have come down from the outback already," Mr Walden said.

He said landholders with high locust numbers should consider spraying them, as they could continue to build up and damage emerging crops if there was an early break to the season.

"Some landholders have already been treating locusts while spraying summer weeds. This would be a wise action to take if locusts densities are high," Mr Walden said.

Any sightings on properties should be reported to Agwest.

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