The invasive pest fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) has been found in northern Western Australia, following detections in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The pest was found in a surveillance trap in Kununurra, operated by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) as part of the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy.
DPIRD chief plant biosecurity officer Sonya Broughton said the department was working with industry stakeholders and other state and territory jurisdictions to assist industry in preparing for and minimising the impact of this pest as it becomes more broadly established, as well as identifying priority research, development and extension to address knowledge gaps.
Fall armyworm can cause significant production losses with larvae known to feed on more than 350 plant species, including cotton, maize, rice, sorghum, wheat, fruit and vegetable crops.
The national technical committee, the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests, concluded in February that fall armyworm is not technically feasible to eradicate from Australia.
“Sentinel trapping in WA is being expanded to help provide early advice to industry about presence of the pest in regional areas,” Dr Broughton said.
“We have monitored traps in Kununurra since October last year, with an additional 50 lure traps currently being rolled out across Kununurra, Broome, Carnarvon, Geraldton and Kalumburu.
“We will be offering a webinar conference with Kununurra growers to discuss management options.”
Permits are in place for fall armyworm control in horticulture and grains crops, with more information available from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website.
Fall armyworm is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Since 2016 it has rapidly spread to and throughout Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia.
More information is available from the DPIRD website agric.wa.gov.au, search ‘fall armyworm’.
Jodie Thomson, media liaison (08) 9368 3937