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Australia - Fall armyworm found

Grain growers are being urged to monitor and report pests found in crops after an exotic caterpillar, which has the ability to devastate the industry, was discovered in Australia for the first time.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment said the fall armyworm was detected in Australia last week on the northern Torres Strait Islands of Saibai and Erub.

Grain Growers chairman Brett Hosking said the industry had the knowledge should an outbreak take place in Victoria, but growers needed to monitor and report any pests.

“The more we know about pests the more we can manage them in our crop systems,” he said.

And even with “robust” biosecurity measures in place, Mr. Hosking said the world was “getting smaller”, which posed more risks.

“We are increasingly importing more products from overseas including farm machinery, with the pathways almost directly to regional and rural areas,” he said.

“But our biosecurity is robust and we are continually developing and improving the system to pick up new threats.”

Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment head of biosecurity Lyn O’Connell said the caterpillar stage of the fall armyworm had damaged many crops across Africa and Asia such as rice maize and sorghum.

“The larval or caterpillar stage of the fall armyworm can feed on a wide variety of crops causing large economic loss, and it has the potential to impact on our native and garden plants,” Ms. O’Connell said.

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