Army found on Bundy farms
GROWERS have been advised to apply extra caution to their crops, after an exotic pest was detected in Bundaberg.
Sightings of the fall armyworm (also known as spodoptera frugiperda) were first reported in Australia, at Torres Strait Island in January.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (BFVG) managing director Bree Grima said she encouraged growers and agronomists to conduct regular checks of their crops for unusual pest activity.
"Early detection and an integrated pest management approach is essential (as) fall armyworms can cause significant crop damage depending on the host plant," Ms Grima said. "Symptoms of activity can include leaf damage including pinholes and defoliation in addition to small larvae."
As the species is new to Australia, Ms Grima said the pest's preferred host plants and the extent of damage it can cause to field grown crops, was still being determined.
"This exotic pest has a huge appetite from citrus, mango, melon, sweet corn and cucurbits through to sugar cane," Ms Grima said. "It's important to recognise not all crops are affected equally and melons for example do not appear to suffer from crop loss, but it is expected that sweet corn will be most susceptible to damage."
• 15-20mm length and 32-40mm wingspan.
• Brown or grey forewing and white hind wing.
• 1.7mm-34mm in length.
• Green-brown or grey-brown with lengthwise stripes, dark spots with spines, pale underside, dark head with inverted 'Y' shape.
• 14-18mm long and 4.5mm wide.
• Found in soil under plant.
• Pale yellow and mass cluster.
• Can contain 100-200 eggs.
• Mound attached to foliage, with silk-like furry substance.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) confirmed the fall armyworm had been detected in Bundaberg.
"This is not unexpected as fall armyworm is highly mobile and can fly long distances with suitable weather conditions," the spokesman said.
"Fall armyworm is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Since 2016 it has rapidly spread to and throughout Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia.
"Since then it has been detected in Queensland at Bamaga, Croydon, South Johnstone, Tolga, Lakeland, the Burdekin, Bowen and now Bundaberg. Fall armyworm has also been detected in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia."
For more information, visit business.qld.gov.au/fallarmyworm.
To report a suspected sighting of the fall armyworm, phone the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.