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Brown pasture loopers

Brown pasture loopers (Ciampa arietaria) have been identified for agronomist, Matt McLoughlan (JSA Independent), damaging a lupin crop near Charlton, in the Wimmera district of Victoria. The paddock was a cereal in 2009 and the damage is confined to a small patch within the middle of the paddock. Matt reported the leaves within the affected area were substantially damaged and that caterpillars could be found on the surrounding ground and directly on the lupin plants. Brown pasture loopers have also been identified for agronomist, Elissa Strong (Walkers AGnVET Services). Elissa says significant feeding damage has occurred to several lucerne paddocks south of Forbes, in the Central West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. At least one paddock has required chemical control.

We have observed brown pasture loopers in a recently sown canola crop containing medic and capeweed, near Charlton, in the Wimmera district of Victoria. We have also received an unconfirmed report of small brown pasture looper caterpillars attacking an emerging canola crop west of Skipton, in the Western district of Victoria.

Brown pasture loopers attack canola and lupin crops, as well as pastures and broadleaved weeds. They have one generation per year and are generally present from July to October. They are most damaging when large sized caterpillars (>20 mm in length) transfer from autumn weeds onto newly emerged seedlings. Brown pasture loopers are often prevalent around patches of weeds, particularly capeweed, and around the edges of crops. These areas should be monitored closely and spot or perimeter spraying is often all that is required.

Caterpillars of the brown pasture looper vary in size, growing to 20-35 mm in length. They move using a series of back arches, which results in a characteristic looping motion. Caterpillars are dark brown to grey in colour with a yellow line along the back either side of a conspicuous dark band. They have red spots surrounding the breathing holes (spiracles) on the sides of the body. Moths are pale dusty brown in colour with grey and brown streaks on the forewings.

Click here for images of the brown pasture looper.

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