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Australian plague locust warning

Australian plague locusts (Chortoicetes terminifera) have been sighted across large areas of northern Victoria, which has lead authorities to declare this season may be the worst in 30 years. Although locusts are dying in dry regions, they are thriving in areas with any green vegetation and present in densities of several hundred per square metre. Large numbers have also been observed in the Riverina and Central West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. This serves as a reminder for growers in these regions to remain on the lookout for this potentially devastating pest. Any sightings should be reported to the Rural Lands Protection Board or the Department of Primary Industries so that populations can be monitored and control measures implemented.  

Australian plague locusts can cause severe damage to pastures and a range of field crops if they are not controlled. Swarms covering one square kilometre will devour any green plant material in their path, and can eat up to 10 tonnes of vegetation in a day. To prevent the build up of large populations, locusts need to be controlled during their early stages as ‘hoppers’ when they are unable to fly. Once locusts reach the adult stage, controlling them becomes difficult and expensive. Adults can move long distances very quickly and have been recorded travelling hundreds of kilometres in a single night.

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 40 mm 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.

Click here for images of the Australian plague locust and refer to the Australian Plague Locust Commission for further information on the present situation across south-eastern Australia.

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