Fall armyworm on the march

Local Land Services is urging farmers across the North Coast and Hunter regions to inspect pastures and forage crops for Fall Armyworm (FAW). This insect pest has now started to cause significant and rapid pasture damage from the Lower Macleay into the Hunter region and is a serious threat to a wide range of industries.

Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is an insect pest that was first detected in NSW in 2020. It has since been found in summer crops in NSW, including the North Coast, Northern Tablelands, North West, Hunter, Greater Sydney, South East, Central West, Riverina and Murray Local Land Services regions.

Donna Cuthel, Senior Plant Biosecurity Officer with North Coast Local Land Services said “Damage appeared to have started in oats but then moved to ryegrass, kikuyu and clover, however, there was no obvious damage to chicory plantings.

“Winter species were chewed to ground level with these grasses unlikely to recover, however, we expect that kikuyu should recover.”

“The current situation seems to be beyond the capacity of natural predators to control and we know there are limited options for chemical or biological treatment.

To ensure that farmers have access to the latest information, Local Land Services will be running a webinar to share management advice. The last six months have seen ideal breeding conditions for FAW but understanding the rate at which they are developing through autumn and into winter will help with decision making.

Donna continued, “The key is that as temperatures drop, the life cycles slows and FAW populations are expected to decline.

“During this period, there is more time to recheck fields to determine whether the infestations are likely to be damaging - rather than rushing to treat at the first sign of small larvae, it’s therefore important to check your pasture regularly to detect the early stages of infestation.”

Local Land Services will be running a webinar on 21 May covering the FAW lifecycle, identification and current control options. Visit www.lls.nsw.gov.au/events for more information.

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