See the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia's (DAFWA) PestFax newsletter for updates on the status of this pest.
We need your help with continued surveillance
With heightened activity forecast for aphids in WA, (DAFWA) is urging growers to keep an eye out for RWA when surveying for other aphids.
It would help DAFWA’s RWA surveillance program if growers could report the absence of aphids, rather than just the presence.
This can provide an opportunity to help determine whether or not RWA is present in WA. An easy reporting option is to download DAFWA’s MyPestGuide Reporter app or make an online report. Both can be done from mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au. If you don’t find anything, just report ‘0’. For other reporting options see below.
Agronomists, consultants, nursery and garden industry representatives and the general public can also help with surveillance:
- LOOK in crops and grassy weeds (Poaceae) for aphids or damage symptoms.
- REPORT both absence and presence.
- DO NOT send samples. Refer below to Warning about sending plant material samples.
- FOLLOW ON-FARM BIOSECURITY measures. This is imperative to prevent infestation of all pests and diseases - not just Russian wheat aphid. Avoid driving vehicles through crops, wash down vehicles frequently, wash hands, and brush down clothes and boots that have been in contact with each crop. Refer below to On-farm biosecurity is important.
Russian wheat aphid a more severe aphid
Russian wheat aphid is potentially a more severe pest than other aphids.
While aphid feeding damage generally results in yield losses of up to 10 per cent, in overseas crops Russian wheat aphid has caused yield losses of more than 80 per cent.
Unlike other aphids, Russian wheat aphids inject a toxin into susceptible crops, like wheat and barley, which can severely retard growth or under heavy infestations, kill the plant.
Although, at this point we do not know how it will affect cereal crops in Australian conditions.
What to look for
Search cereal crops and grasses for aphid pests and damage symptoms now – even before feeding damage symptoms occur.
Plant damage symptoms
- Symptoms could look like herbicide damage, thrips damage, mite damage or wheat streak damage.
- Look for a noticeable loss of green colouration across the crop and, on closer inspection, white, yellow, purple or red streaking, leaf curling, stunted plant growth and loss of vigour.
- Start plant inspections at the crop edge, where pests often colonise first, or where plants are under stress.
- Look for aphid damage symptoms near the base of newly emerged leaves and inspect the leaves and leaf whorls of tillers.
- Russian wheat aphids looks similar to other cereal aphids except it has two tiny tails at the rear end and lacks the usual excretion tubes or exhaust pipes on the top of the rear end of the body compared to other cereal aphids.
- These pests are approximately 2 millimetres long, pale yellowish green with a fine waxy coating.
- The antennae are short, as are the cone-shaped siphunculi (sometimes called cornicles).
- Examine them closely using a hand lens or smartphone macro lens.
Report the absence or presence of suspect aphids or damage IMMEDIATELY.
It is preferrable to use reporting apps to make a report.
- Download DAFWA’s MyPestGuide Reporter app to your smart phone, take a photo and follow the prompts on the device. The app can be used in areas that do not have mobile coverage, as it updates and sends when returned to coverage or wifi.
- When using the MyPestGuide app to report absence of aphids or damage symptoms, type '0 aphids' and/or '0 damage' in the 'I found' text box.
- Growers and agronomists may alternatively choose to make reports by downloading the PestFax Reporter app to their smart phone.
- When using the PestFax app to report absence of aphids or damage symptoms, select 'aphid-other/unknown' as the 'problem', and 'none found' as the 'severity' of problem.
- If you do not have a smart phone you can create a web report online.
You can also make a report to DAFWA’s Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.
Warning about sending plant material samples
Please note: Do not send samples to DAFWA for diagnostic verification unless asked to do so.
If you find aphids or damage symptoms, please take photos in the first instance and upload them using the reporting options above.
This is because there is a risk of spreading aphids to other areas if they are not transported in an appropriate manner.
If a sample is required DAFWA staff will respond to you directly. They will provide advice on how to move and send samples to minimise the risk of spread.
On-farm biosecurity is important
Russian wheat aphid is spread by the movement of plant material, vehicles, machinery, equipment, livestock and wind. Adhere to good paddock hygiene measures to ensure any risk of spreading the pest is minimised, similar to managing for rusts.
- Avoid driving vehicles through crops; and wash down vehicles frequently.
- Limit the movement of people and equipment near the suspect crop.
- Wash hands, and brush down clothes and boots that have been in contact with each crop.
- Do not openly move or transport affected plant material between properties unless sending samples to your local DAFWA office.
Go to the Farm Biosecurity website for more guidelines.
There are currently strict quarantine procedures in place for movement of material from other States into Western Australia.
However, in light of this recent detection DAFWA has reviewed these measures and has strengthened requirements around imports of Poaceae nursery stock and Poaceae cut flowers/foliage from South Australia, which are also hosts of Russian wheat aphid.
This includes refinements of the existing chemical treatment for Poaceae nursery stock and increased inspection of Poaceae cut flowers/foliage. The volume of Poaceae cut flowers/foliage coming into WA is small.
In relation to the movement of machinery into WA, a new restriction requiring a statutory declaration has been introduced. For more information download the 'RWA Machinery Restriction Notification' from this page.
Existing stringent requirements in relation to the movement of hay and straw, and livestock have been reviewed and remain in place.
More about detections in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales
South Australia - Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)
Victoria - Agriculture Victoria
New South Wales - Department of Primary Industries
- Pestfax newsletter
- DAFWA media release
- MyPestGuide reporter app
- MyPestGuide online reporting
- Farm biosecurity
- South Australian (PIRSA) Russian wheat aphid web page
- Agriculture Victoria Russian wheat aphid web page
- Plant Health Australia RWA Factsheet
- How to inspect your crops
- Dispersal strategy of aphids
- Aphid pests
- Plant Health Australia RWA contingency plan
- Plant Health Australia fact sheet - Is your field day a biosecurity risk
MyPestGuide reporter app user guide
- Open Google Play or Apple store on your device.
- Type ‘mypestguide’ (one word) into the search box.
- Select MyPestGuide ‘Reporter’ and download.
- Accept Location services when installing.
- Open app to start by tapping on green icon.
- Ensure the device’s GPS location is turned on to enable automatic location.
Making a report
- Select '+' icon to make a report.
- Take (or attach) up to 4 photos by tapping the ‘camera’ icons. At least one photo MUST be taken. Consider taking photos of:
- Close-up of aphids
- Close-up of damage symptoms
- Photo of the host plant
- Photo of surrounding habitat
- Take photos of healthy plants if no aphids or damage symptoms are present.
- In ‘Send report to…’ select ‘Russian wheat aphid survey'.
- In ‘Where’ type in:
- Host plant. street # and name. paddock info
- Separate information with a period (.)
- Use lower case text, avoid capitals
- Abbreviate street types to first 2 letters
- Separate units from street numbers using a forward slash (/)
wheat. 2b squall wa. se paddock
unknown. 53/1 doney rd. block 2 ne corner
barley. 9a stirk av. se corner of garden
- In ‘I found’ type in:
- 0 aphid. 0 damage (no aphid no damage)
- 1 aphid. 1 damage (aphid and damage)
- 1 aphid. 0 damage (aphid no damage)
- 0 aphid. 1 damage (no aphid but damage)
- Check the location button is on (‘green‘). Check GPS accuracy improves before selecting the Send report button.
In ‘Login’ select:
- The State where data resides i.e. Western Australia
- Enter your email address (check spelling)
- Enter your mobile number i.e. 0449979078
- then press OK
- Remember to refresh your reports when back in WIFI or mobile range. Refer to the ‘About’ section for more detail on how to use the app.
- Treat each observation as a unique report. If there are multiple host plants, do separate reports for each host plant.
Taking good photos
- Clean your lens
- Focus by tapping your phone’s screen on the part of the image to focus on
- Avoid zooming in. Instead get closer.
- Don't use the flash.
- Avoid light pointing straight into lens.
- Set the resolution to as high as possible.
- For very small objects use a macro lens 2-3cm away from the subject.
Making an online report
If you don’t have a mobile device you can still report RWA using the online tool.
- Click on ‘Create a report’ button.
- Add your email address and mobile number.
- Send report to…‘Russian wheat aphid survey’.
- Check computer location is turned on.
- Drag and drop green dot on map.
- Drag and drop photos from camera or file.
- Click ‘I am not a machine’ then save.
See reports from others
To view community reports filter by project ‘all’ and type ‘aphid’ into the search text box. If you have administrative rights data can be downloaded to CSV files. To request admin rights email email@example.com.
Registering on the DAFWA website
Please register online to view maps of your personal reports.
- Go to the MyPestGuide website.
- Select ‘Register here now!’.
- Create a new account by filling in the requested boxes and select 'Create new account’.
- Go to your email and look in the Inbox.
- Open the email sent from the DAFWA and click on the link provided in the email.
- Click on the Log in button and set your password.
- Create a password and fill in your details.
- Click save and return to the MyPestGuide website.
The MyPestGuide team is available to assist you. Phone 1800 084 881, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a report.
Reporting outside mobile areas
When MyPestGuide is outside of WIFI or mobile range the reports are saved to the device, and will remin in the queue, waiting for synchronisation with the DAFWA server.
To finish synchronising reports, and to communicate with DAFWA experts, users must go into the Main menu and Refresh reports when in communication range.
PestFax reporter app user guide
The PestFax app has been purpose built for quick in-paddock reporting of cropping pests and diseases to the PestFax newsletter service.
The PestFax app can be used to report the presence and absence of Russian Wheat Aphid and other ‘regular’ aphids.
An update of the PestFax app for iPhones is now available from the Apple store. All current users will be notified of the update. The previous version did not include Russian wheat aphid in the list of aphids.
When you first open the PestFax app you will be asked for permission to access your location. Please choose “Allow”.
The app will ask you to enter your name, email address and contact phone number. The app will remember this information, and you can change it later if you wish.
Making a report
- Click “Host Plant”, “Cereal”, and “Wheat” (or other crop)
- Click “Problem”, “Plant Pest”, “Aphid”. You can then select what type of aphid ie. “Russian Wheat Aphid” “Corn Aphid”, “Oat Aphid”, or “Aphid - Other/Unknown”
- Click “Severity of Problem”. Select “None Found” or other Severity type if aphids are present.
- Scroll down
- If any type of aphid is present click “Take Photo”, take a photo, and click “Use Photo”
- Click “Send Report”
- The next time you make a report, the app will remember all of your selections. If nothing has changed just click “Send Report”, or make any changes and click “Send Report”.
- You can add information on “Host Variety”, “Host Growth Stage” or add any “Comment” if you wish but this is not necessary.
You can also request a call or an email reply from a DAFWA expert if you require more information.
The app will always report your current location.
If you are out of mobile range your reports will be sent as soon as you are in range.
For more information contact Art Diggle, DAFWA senior research officer on +61 (0)8 9368 3563 or Fumie Horiuchi, DAFWA technical officer on +61 (0)8 9368 3991.
Australia is the last major grain growing country in the world which is free of Russian wheat aphid. Its preference for drier climates indicates it would thrive in the Western Australian wheatbelt.
It is widespread in southern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, North America and parts of Africa. It has been found in one region of the People's Republic of China for about 70 years, but has not spread to the major wheat-growing areas. It has recently been found in Chile and Argentina but has not yet become a serious pest.
Russian wheat aphid is a small lime-green coloured aphid with an elongated body. Adults are 1.4-2.3mm in length, the antennae are short, as are the cone-shaped siphunculi (sometimes called cornicles). Supracaudal process is present, giving the appearance of a double tail.
This aphid has a history of severe economic impact. Analysis has indicated that there is a high risk of severe losses in many Australian wheatgrowing areas. Since its appearance in Texas in 1986, Russian wheat aphid has become a major pest of wheat and barley in the United States, causing over $850 million in direct and indirect losses from 1987 to 1992.
Russian wheat aphid is a serious pest of wheat and barley. Limited problems also have been noted in triticale, oats and rye.
Season of occurrence
Russian wheat aphid would occur throughout the year. Infestation of wheat and barley would start from the emergence of the crop in autumn and extend to crop maturity. During wet summers self-sown wheat and barley would serve as a 'green bridge'.
As a result of salivary toxins injected as the aphids feed, plants become purplish and leaves develop longitudinal yellowish and whitish streaks. Tillers of heavily infested plants often run parallel to the ground, giving them a prostrate appearance. In the spring, as wheat stems begin to elongate, the aphids move upward to infest the new leaves. Eventually the aphids reach the flag leaf, causing it to roll and "trap" the emerging head and awns. The "trapped" head then curls, resulting in poor pollination.