Australian plague locust: overview

The Australian plague locust is a declared pest under the the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. Emerging nymphs and swarming locusts have the ability to cause severe damage to crops and pastures on the southern and south-eastern parts of the agricultural region, as well as damage to intensive horticultural enterprises, sporting grounds, orchards, vineyards, gardens and other public and private facilities from flying swarms.

Australian plague locust sitting on grass.

Identification and biology

The Australian plague locust (Chortoicetes terminifera) is a native insect found throughout Australia. It usually inhabits pastoral regions in relatively low numbers, but with favourable weather conditions, numbers can increase greatly and locusts can migrate into agricultural regions.

The immature or hopper stage locusts damage mainly pastures in farming areas and gardens and lawns in domestic areas. They tend to avoid established green crops, although the edges of crops can be damaged. Adult locusts can form swarms and fly into other areas, damaging pastures, ripening crops, grapevines, fruit trees and tree seedlings. If crops have completely dried off before locusts begin flying, the possibility of damage is considerably less.

Description

Adult Australian plague locusts are between 24-40mm long. They vary in colour from light to dark shades of green to brown. Plague locusts have a dark blotch at the outer edge of the hind wing, and the inside of the hind legs are red in colour. Both adults and hoppers all have a distinctive cross on the thorax (that is, on their neck).

Hoppers and locusts can be easily confused with other native grasshoppers. The Australian plague locust: identification field guide provides images to help you identify the Australian plague locust. 

Three Australian plague locusts, showing identifying features including the dark spot on the wing, red coloured inner hind legs, and the x-shaped marking on the thorax.

Adult locusts (left and centre). Note the dark spot on the wing and red coloured inner hind legs. Both adults and hoppers have a distinctive cross on the thorax (arrow indicates x-shaped marking; right).

Landholder locust control

Refer to the links under the ‘See Also’ section (side of page) for information regarding landholder locust control.

Contacts

Enquiries on Australian Plague Locust matters can be directed to:

Manager

Tim Stevens

+61 (0)8 9780 6119

+61 (0)428 711 394

Technical adviser

Svetlana Micic

+61 (0)8 9892 8591

+61 (0)427 772 051

Media liaison officer

Jodie Thomson

+61 (0)8 9368 3937

+61 (0)427 423 283

Communications and extension

Clare Darragh

+61 (0)8 9368 3375

+61 (0)448 486 921

For general enquiries regarding the Australian plague locust, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
1800 084 881
Page last updated: Friday, 24 February 2017 - 10:57am