sustainability through science & innovation

Collaborative program gives an early warning for native budworm in crops

29 Sep 2015

Every spring, native budworm moths (Helicoverpa punctigera) arrive in pulse and canola crops within south-eastern Australia. These moths are thought to have migrated considerable distances, sometimes hundreds or thousands of kilometres and mostly from the north-west.

For the second consecutive year, cesar is collaborating with colleagues from SARDI, QDAF and agronomists and growers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to trial an advanced warning system for native budworm infestations in the eastern cropping zone.

We have established a broad network of pheromone traps (based on the female sex scent) throughout the cropping regions of eastern Australia. To supplement these, a network of traps in western Queensland and northern South Australia, facilitated through the University of New England, is providing an early indication of (remote) inland breeding and moth activity of native budworm in the winter months. A small number of automated traps, owned by Adama Australia Pty Ltd., are also being evaluated across the network and provide daily trap catch records. From this network, we are able to provide forecasts for the southern New South Wales and Victorian regions. 

Based on weekly moth catches, climatic records and our predictive model, we can estimate:

  • Possible movement of moths, mostly into districts to the south or southeast
  • Likely peak egg –hatch dates (first instar) for different regions, assuming that moths lay eggs locally and that their eggs survive environmental conditions
  • Dates on which the young caterpillars may first become detectable in sweep nets
  • The approximate catch threshold at which crop monitoring should commence.

These predictions are important for growers and agronomists because they act as a warning of potential native budworm activity in their area.


For further information about this program, contact:

Dr Garry McDonald or Dr Alana Govender


Ph: 03 9349 4723

Email: or