Local farmers urged to be on the lookout for fall armyworm

Fall Armyworm, Photo: NSW DPIE

Fall Armyworm, Photo: NSW DPIE

Farmers in the region are being urged to look out for signs of damage and the presence of fall armyworm larvae in summer crops following the recent trapping of moths across northern NSW.

Fall armyworm is reported to feed on more than 350 plant species, including maize, cotton, rice, sorghum, sugarcane, wheat, and vegetable and fruit crops, and have caused significant economic losses overseas.

Destruction of crops can happen rapidly when infestation levels are high.

Adult moth. Photo: Biosecurity Queensland

Adult moth. Photo: Biosecurity Queensland

Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said the moths had been trapped at Rollands Plains, Austral Eden, Bonville, Casino and Tumbulgum.

"Fall armyworm is an insect pest that poses a serious threat to a range of crops," she said.

"While it has been found in a small number of locations, it is anticipated that migratory flights of the pest will occur annually across NSW and fall armyworm may establish in some of the warmer parts of the State.

"The detected moths were trapped during routine surveillance of the early warning trapping network established by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS).

"Farmers throughout the region need to be on the lookout for signs of fall armyworm, which include windowing of leaves where larvae have hatched and small shot holes as leaves expand, caused by larvae feeding in the developing leaf whorl.

"The best way to minimise the spread and impact of the pest is to identify the signs and symptoms early."

Photo: NSW DPIE

Photo: NSW DPIE

Fast action to manage small larvae is recommended by NSW DPI and Local Land Services (LLS) to maximise control and help minimise further spread by restricting local infestations.

Anyone who suspects the presence of fall armyworm should immediately call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

For small larvae, the Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services recommend retaining samples with food, such as host crop leaves, and allow them to grow to enable photographs to be taken.

In most cases, NSW DPI will be able identify larvae from clear photographs which can be sent via an online form or to biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au with your contact details.

DPI continues to work with potentially affected industries providing free insect diagnostics for suspect fall armyworm moths and larvae, advice on control and chemical management options.

More information on identification, treatment options and resistance management is available on DPI and LLS websites. Farmers should contact their LLS staff for advice on fall armyworm management.

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