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Flood bugs

Slaters have been found attacking crops south of Goondiwindi, in the North West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. Agronomist, Kate Kelly (Total Ag), says the slaters have caused extensive damage to a wheat crop, with some patches within the paddock eaten completely bare. The affected paddock has dark cracking soils and the majority of damage appears to be concentrated in the driest parts. Other paddocks have also experienced some feeding damage. Although not confirmed, these slaters are likely to be the flood bug (Australiodillo bifrons).

In the past, the flood bug has caused significant damage to cereal crops around Moree and Mudgee in northern New South Wales. The flood bug is a native species, approximately 7-8 mm in length and 4 mm wide. They are oval shaped and have a flattened body, with light coloured legs. They have the unusual behaviour of moving in ‘swarms’ which can consist of >100,000 individuals. This season we have also had reports of other slater species causing damage to canola and wheat crops in some regions.

There are no insecticides registered against slaters in broad-acre crops, and reports indicate they are relatively unaffected by most foliar applications of both synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphates applied to control other crop establishment pests, even when applied at very high rates. This is probably because they hide under cover and avoid sufficient contact with the insecticide. There are chemical baits registered for use against slaters in horticulture, and reports suggest some success with chlorpyrifos baits in Western Australia. Click here for images of the flood bug and refer to PestFacts Issue No. 5 for more information on slaters.

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