Australia Braces For Plague Of Locusts

Significant numbers of Australian plague locusts are expected to build up during spring in eastern and southern parts of Western Australia’s grain-belt.

A survey from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) showed moderate density hatchings could occur in parts of the Ravensthorpe, Jerramungup, Gnowangerup, Narrogin, Kulin, Yilgarn, Westonia, Mukinbudin and Nungarin shires.

DAFWA entomologist Svetlana Micic said it was important farmers in these shires and beyond start checking their paddocks for locusts from September.

“Anyone who had locusts present in autumn potentially has had an egg bed laid and we can expect hatchings to occur from mid-September onwards,” she said.

Acting director of invasive species Malcolm Kennedy said this locust season would not be the worst WA has witnessed.

“The biggest outbreak we’ve had in recent years was in 2006 and that was quite an extensive outbreak,” he said.

“It’s unlikely to be as large as 2006, but also likely to be larger than a subsequent one in 2012.”

Ms Micic said dense grain crops tended to have very low hatchings of locusts.

“A dense crop canopy shades egg beds so the egg beds don’t actually hatch very well and hatchling locusts actually do need to have access to sunlight to initiate movement, she said.

Mr Kennedy said managing locusts was the responsibility of the landholder.

“The department will be assisting by monitoring areas and looking at areas where hatchings are coming forth, looking at densities and reporting that back to industry,” he said.

“But the responsibility of the actual control of the insects belongs to the landholder.”

But Ms Micic said it was important for landholders to remember hatchlings were easy to control.

“If you have an egg bed that is hatching on your property it’s very easy to do a spray,” she said.

“There are a number of insecticides that are registered and they are all on our website.”

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