sustainability through science & innovation

Additional reports of cockchafers

Yellowheaded cockchafers (Sericesthis spp.) have been found by agronomist, John Stuchbery (JSA Independent), in a wheat paddock south-west of Ararat, in the Western district of Victoria. Thinned patches were noticed across the paddock, and upon digging approximately 5 cockchafer grubs per square metre were found. The paddock was also sown to wheat in 2009 and is on a loamy soil type.

Agronomist, Brett Atkin (Landmark), reports finding cockchafers in a barley crop at Watchem, in the Victorian Wimmera district. The paddock is a heavy soil and about one quarter of the 50-acre crop has dead or dying plants. Grubs were easily found in these affected areas when digging around. Brett is not aware of cockchafers being a problem in this area in previous years.

Cockchafer larvae are “C” shaped, creamy-grey in colour with three pairs of yellowish legs. They have hardened head capsules that vary in colour depending on species. Redheaded and yellowheaded cockchafers are primarily root feeders and may feed on cereals, clovers, grasses and some weeds. Control of these two species is difficult with chemicals because of their subterranean feeding habits. Cultural controls such as higher seeding rates, soil disturbance (cultivation) or rotations involving oats or non-preferred pasture species (e.g. phalaris) are often the most effective control options. For further information on cockchafers, refer to PestFacts Issue No. 6.

Click for images of yellowheaded cockchafers and redheaded cockchafers.

PestFacts is supported by