Russian wheat aphid: production pest

Page last updated: Tuesday, 15 June 2021 - 7:54am

Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia), is a pest of barley and wheat crops.

It was first detected in South Australia in 2016 and is now present in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

In August 2020,  Russian wheat aphid  was detected in Western Australia’s southern wheat growing area. It had not been found in Western Australia previously.

The department is asking WA grain growers and agronomists to survey cereal crops and grassy weeds for aphids and report any aphid activity or damage.

Growers, agronomists and consultants are being asked to assist with crop monitoring. Report any aphids or crop damage in cereal crops or grassy weeds, RWA damage looks similar to herbicide or mite damage. 

RWA reports and photos should be submitted through one of the following. Samples should only be sent if requested to do so.

Confirmation of RWA in crops will enable growers to implement proven control methods. Trials and farmer experience in the eastern states over the past four years have determined that with timely and effective treatment, RWA damaged crops can recover to deliver adequate yields.

Impact

Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia), is pest of wheat and barley, it can be found in grass weeds, like brome and barley grass.

The aphid injects toxins into the plant during feeding which retards growth and with heavy infestations, kills the plant.

Even a few aphids can cause symptoms to appear as early as seven days after infestation. The feeding damage symptoms do not mean there will be yield loss. It is the percentage of tillers with aphids on them that determine whether there will be yield loss.

Trade implications

Presence of RWA in WA is not an international trade issue and there are no trade implications for the WA grain industry, as bulk grain is not a host for Russian wheat aphid.

Following the 2016 detection, the National Management Group (NMG), comprising all Australian governments, Grain Producers Australia and Plant Health Australia, agreed that it was not technically feasible or cost-beneficial to eradicate Russian wheat aphid from Australia.