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Rutherglen bugs

Agronomist, Greg Toomey (Landmark), has reported issues with Rutherglen bugs causing damage to a wheat crop north of Elmore, in the Northern Country district of Victoria. Very high numbers of Rutherglen bugs (mostly nymphs) were observed feeding on seedling plants and crawling on the soil surface. Greg said the paddock was sown to canola last year, and the presence of volunteer canola this season has likely supported the population build-up. Highest numbers of Rutherglen bugs are often observed along crop perimeters, but in this case, they have been found across the entire paddock in similar densities.

The Rutherglen bug (Nysius vinitor) is a native insect that attacks a wide range of crops and weeds including canola, lucerne, sunflowers, linseed and sorghum. They are generally a problem during spring. However, the Rutherglen bug is a highly opportunistic pest that breeds rapidly under favourable conditions; thus can be a pest of seedling crops in autumn and early winter. During this time they will cause retardation of emerging seedlings and seedling death. Damage to wheat is relatively uncommon. Common symptoms include white blotches on tillers, which can appear similar to hail damage.

Adult Rutherglen bugs are 4 mm long and grey-brown in colour with clear wings folded flat on their back. They are narrow-bodied with prominent dark eyes, and they are highly mobile. Nymphs are wingless and have a dark red, pear-shaped body. For further information on Rutherglen bugs, refer to PestFacts Issue No. 4.

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