A mysterious weevil damaging crops in the Mid West will be the focus of a new joint project seeking to identify the pest and find out its distribution.
Dubbed the ‘Dongara weevil’, it was first reported in a canola crop on a property east of Dongara in 2013.
Local growers have since reported the tiny black weevil infesting canola and coriander crops in the district and adjacent Mingenew area.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Murdoch University and the Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) have joined forces to find, describe or classify the weevil.
The project has co-investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
DPIRD research scientist Dustin Severtson said the project also aimed to expand the understanding of its distribution in WA and examine factors influencing the incidence and severity of crop damage caused by this species.
“An understanding of the host and environmental preferences, along with the taxonomic classification of the pest, is important for the development of tools and information to correctly identify the pest,” Dr Severtson said.
“This information will be pivotal to assist with the development of effective management strategies for this unidentified crop pest.”
Throughout the 2023 and 2024 seasons, surveillance will include many paddocks sampled during the season via pitfall traps within a 50 kilometre radius of known ‘Dongara weevil’ sites.
“That surveillance should provide some preliminary observations of the soil type and crop hosts, crop/plant damage incidence and severity, and paddock histories,” Dr Severtson said.
Mingenew Irwin Group project officer Jacqui Meares said weevil surveys in the area would help to understand its distribution and which farmers were potentially at risk of crop loss.
“This information will assist landholders in determining mitigation measures for future seasons,” Ms Meares said.
A taxonomic species description will be conducted by DPIRD, while Murdoch University will lead the molecular analysis.
GRDC crop protection manager – west Georgia Megirian said project results would be pivotal to better inform possible future initiatives of managing this unidentified crop pest.
“This project represents a collaborative effort across various industries to gather knowledge on the Dongara weevil, prompted by valuable feedback from local growers in the area,” Ms Megirian said.
Dustin Severtson, research scientist 0427 196 656
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937/3137