Detection prompts fall army worm response

Detection prompts fall army worm response

Cropping News
Fall armyworm is a highly migratory, invasive pest that was first reported in Australia in February 2020. Photo by Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

Fall armyworm is a highly migratory, invasive pest that was first reported in Australia in February 2020. Photo by Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

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"This is the most southerly detection we have had in Western Australia..."

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ANOTHER spotting of fall armyworm has been made, with a detection of the pest near Gingin as part of a surveillance program run by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

DPIRD senior research scientist Helen Spafford said two moths were recently collected in a pheromone trap north of the town.

"This is the most southerly detection we have had in Western Australia, since the pest was first confirmed in northern parts of Australia earlier this year," Dr Spafford said.

"While no larvae or feeding damage has been found in this area, we encourage horticulture, grain and turf grass growers to be checking for larvae in their crops and monitor for unusual levels of damage.

"This trap and others further south will continue to be monitored as part of DPIRD's ongoing surveillance program."

Accurately identifying fall armyworm is important in determining management options and other caterpillars already present in the area may look very similar.

"Young fall armyworm larvae are light coloured with a darker head," Dr Spafford said.

"As they develop the body darkens, becoming more brown with white lengthwise stripes, plus they also develop dark spots, the pattern of which is important, with spines."

Information about fall armyworm and its management in grain crops has been consolidated into a reference document for use by Australian consultants and other industry professionals.

Produced with investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Fall Armyworm Continuity Plan was compiled by sustainable agriculture research organisation cesar, Plant Health Australia (PHA), the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

cesar research lead Olivia Reynolds said the national plan would be an important resource to aid industry in dealing with the exotic pest at this early incursion stage.

"It is intended as a reference document for professionals, specialists and consultants in preparing more localised and industry-specific communication and extension material," Dr Reynolds said.

"This plan compiles information from international literature and expertise and provides a solid background of knowledge on the pest, which will support the development of effective management strategies, plans and information sharing networks."

Areas addressed include fall armyworm biology and behaviour, spread, impact and seasonal dynamics, identification and scouting, management considerations, insecticide resistance management and extension of information.

GRDC biosecurity manager Jeevan Khurana said fall armyworm had been a pest of agriculture in the Americas for a long time and was now causing problems in many parts of the world.

"Overall, there is a lot of activity occurring in Australia to ensure an effective response to fall armyworm - across industry, State and Federal governments and the private sector," Dr Khurana said.

"It will take time to adjust and learn how to manage this pest, and the central objective of ongoing GRDC investment in fall armyworm is to help develop robust and sustainable integrated pest management strategies."

The Fall Armyworm Continuity Plan maps out zones likely to be at risk from fall armyworm.

The Fall Armyworm Continuity Plan maps out zones likely to be at risk from fall armyworm.

A series of podcasts, aimed primarily at agronomists and growers, will also be released to prepare farm businesses for potential impacts.

Funded by Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative members and produced by PHA, the podcasts are available for free from the PBRI website and will also be made available through Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify and Fireside.

PHA national manager for preparedness and RD&E Stuart Kearns said the threat posed by fall armyworm prompted concerted efforts to find out about its likely effects in Australia and how best to manage it.

"We have sourced knowledge from around the world to develop a new reference guide on the pest, together with a series of podcasts, that will help industry manage the invasive moth species," Mr Kearns said.

"The information assembled includes how to scout for and recognise the pest, its lifecycle and biology, estimated areas at risk, and management practices that will help to limit the damage it causes."

Producers, agronomists and homeowners are reminded to report suspected armyworm damage to DPIRD's Pest and Disease Information Service on 9368 3080, email padis@dpird.wa.gov.au, or use the MyPestGuide Reporter app.

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