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Pasture day moth

Agronomist, Greg Condon (Grassroots Agronomy), has reported pasture day moth caterpillars throughout the Junee and Wagga Wagga area, in the South West Slopes of NSW. Greg says over 30 paddocks have been severely affected, with another 40-50 paddocks suffering limited damage. The caterpillars are reported to be causing damage to cereals, especially late-emerging crops that have been sown into paddocks that were previously pasture or contained stubbles with a high capeweed content. The caterpillars have moved onto the emerging crops as the weeds (especially capeweed and mallow) have died from the application of knockdown herbicides.

Pasture day moth (Apina callisto) caterpillars are easily identified when they are fully grown by their dark brown to black colour and reddish-orange markings. They grow to about 50-60 mm long and have two prominent yellow spots near their rear end which become more apparent as they mature in size. When viewed closely, they are noticeably hairy, with prominent bristles. Pasture day moths are found in most southern areas of Australia, ranging from lower Queensland to Tasmania. Greg has not observed such widespread damage to cereal crops before this season. Pasture day moths are generally a sporadic pest and commonly found in pastures.

Greg reports many crops are growing away from the pest pressure, although stressed crops are experiencing significant damage and control is warranted. Alpha-cypermethrin is reported to provide good control. Pasture day moth caterpillars have also been observed attacking lucerne and some pastures. Click here for images of pasture day moth caterpillars and refer to PestFacts Issue No. 5 for further information.

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