sustainability through science & innovation

Australian plague locusts

Australian plague locusts (Chortoicetes terminifera) were observed sweeping across many parts of New South Wales over the March-April period. In many instances they caused feeding damage to early sown winter crops, including those that were irrigated. In the South West Plains district of New South Wales, there were reports that large populations of locusts had completely defoliated some lucerne crops.

According to the Australian Plague Locust Commission, high-density populations of adults with developed eggs were widespread in the Murray, Wagga and western part of the Hume Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB) districts. Locusts have also been found in North Central Victoria.

Fortunately, as temperatures begin to cool heading towards winter, locust activity will decrease so there is less chance of damage to emerging crops. By this stage, most females will have laid their eggs in the soil, preferring to lay in hard red clay soils. Recent reports to PestFacts indicate only a few adult locusts still present in most areas.

Australian plague locusts are readily distinguished from other locust species by the large dark spot present on the tip of each hindwing and red coloured shanks on their hindlegs. Adults are up to 40mm long with a variable body colour of grey, brown or green. They are the most important pest species of locust in Australia due to the area infested and frequency of plagues.

Farmers with affected crops and with information on egg laying locations should contact their RLPB. Significant infestations are expected to develop in several areas in October and November. The more information available, the better-placed authorities will be to respond when hatchings occur in spring.  

For images of the Australian plague locust, click here.

PestFacts is supported by