Russian wheat aphid: production pest

Page last updated: Friday, 11 September 2020 - 11:18am

Russian wheat aphid is a major production pest of wheat, barley and oat crops.

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

In August 2020, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development responded to detections of Russian wheat aphid 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.

BIOSECURITY ALERT FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA - August 2020

REGISTER FOR OUR WEBINAR - 15 September 2020, 9am

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) entomologist Svetlana Micic will discuss how to identify and control Russian wheat aphid.

DPIRD and the WA grains industry are undertaking delimiting surveying in WA's southern wheatbelt to determine the extent of Russian wheat aphid (RWA) spread in WA. 

Growers, agronomists and consultants are being asked to assist with crop monitoring. Report any aphids or crop damage in cereal crops or grassy weeds, as it is difficult to distinguish between aphid species and RWA damage looks similar to herbicide or mite damage. Report both the absence and presence of aphids and damage. Refer to instructions on what to look for.

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.

Refer to the factsheet and Winter Spring Insecticide Guide 2020 on this page for more information on RWA and chemical control options.

Refer to the links on this page for information from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Impact

Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia), is a major production pest of wheat, barley and to a lesser extent oat crops and 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. Although RWA is manageable. 

Even a few aphids can cause symptoms to appear as early as seven days after infestation.

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.