The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), was recently detected in Katherine. Four adult moths were located in a trap at after a network of surveillance traps were increased in key agricultural areas across the Northern Territory (NT), Queensland, and Western Australia to determine the current distribution and provide an early detection system for industries across these regions.
The ongoing locust invasion poses a threat to the country’s food security with the expected damage in main production areas raising fear of maize shortage this year. Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said there was a high likelihood for these insects, which have invaded the country since December, to damage the young maize crop in the field.
Aphid migration could be more than a month earlier in some regions this season due to the relatively mild winter, which allowed the pests to over-winter in crops. Monitoring of cereal crops is therefore essential for the rapid identification of aphid flights and effective disease control, with late-sown crops being particularly vulnerable to attack.
The fall armyworm is continuing to spread across North Queensland and has now been detected as far south as Bowen. The pest was first detected in Australia on two Torres Strait islands in January, before reaching the mainland at Bamaga in February. It was then detected on a property in the Gulf country, and in South Johnstone, Tolga and Lakeland.
During spring tomato growers see whitefly infestation pressure increase slowly, but surely. At this time of year, predatory mirid bugs - such as Macrolophus pygmaeus - are often not yet at full strength. However, Biobest’s biological insecticide Preferal can be a valuable addition to the control strategy.
Cereal growers are advised to monitor crops closely for wheat bulb fly damage after the first signs of plant invasion were seen in eastern England at the beginning of March. The pest is typically a problem in eastern counties, but can also cause issues in the North, where damage is expected to begin shortly.
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