Growers in the Mid West are encouraged to be vigilant for fall armyworm, after the pest was found in a trap at Geraldton.
A single adult moth was collected in a pheromone trap monitored by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). No larvae or feeding damage has been found to date.
DPIRD officers are liaising with growers and agronomists in Western Australia to provide support with trapping and advice on minimising the impact of fall armyworm in horticultural and grains crops.
DPIRD senior research scientist Helen Spafford said vegetable and grain growers in the area should be checking for larvae in their crops, monitor unusual levels of damage, and report suspected fall armyworm to the department to assist with surveillance and potential management options.
“Accurately identifying fall armyworm will be important to determine the management options that can be used,” Dr Spafford said.
“This can be challenging because many caterpillars already present in the area will look similar to fall armyworm.
“Young, fall armyworm larvae are light coloured with a darker head. As they develop the body darkens, becoming more brown with white lengthwise stripes. They also develop dark spots, the pattern of which is important, with spines.”
DPIRD research scientist Dusty Severtson said an extensive trapping program for fall armyworm was underway in the grainbelt.
“Surveillance in the grainbelt has not detected this pest to date, but we are regularly monitoring traps in collaboration with local grower groups,” Dr Severtson said.
“The potential presence and impact of fall armyworm on cereals, canola and pulse crops at various growth stages is not yet known.”
Dr Severtson said there were several other armyworm species which currently impacted cereal crops, predominantly during spring.
“Current monitoring techniques for existing armyworms in cereals include visual inspection for leaf damage and caterpillars at early growth stages and a combination of visual inspection and sweep netting for later growth stages,” he said.
Producers, agronomists and homeowners are reminded to report suspected armyworm damage to DPIRD’s Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the MyPestGuide Reporter app.
More information on fall armyworm, including monitoring and management, is available here.
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937