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Lucerne flea

Lucerne fleas (Sminthurus viridis) have been problematic this season and continue to cause issues for growers in many regions. Agronomist, Simon Hunt (Stephen Pasture Seeds), has reported very high numbers of lucerne flea attacking a recently sown pasture paddock south of Warragul, in the West and South Gippsland district of Victoria. Simon says most damage has occurred to clovers and ryegrass, with large patches in the paddock completely bared out. In some areas, between 8-10 lucerne fleas were observed on a single ryegrass leaf. The affected paddock was a pasture paddock in 2012.

Researcher, Annabel Clouston (cesar), has observed high numbers of lucerne flea in a barley paddock south of Inverleigh, in the Western district of Victoria. Annabel says the lucerne fleas are largely concentrated along one edge of the paddock and appear to have moved in from the fence line. Significant plant loss has occurred in a wide band approximately 20 metres into the crop. Lower numbers of lucerne flea were also observed in a neighbouring paddock containing wheat. Agronomist, Greg Toomey (Landmark), also reports high numbers of lucerne fleas observed in crops around Elmore, in the Northern Country district of Victoria.

It is recommended that growers continue to monitor crops for signs of lucerne flea damage. Lucerne fleas are generally a problem in regions with loam/clay soils. Paddocks are most likely to have problems where they follow a weed-infested crop or pasture in which lucerne flea has not been controlled. Damage is most often concentrated in patches within paddocks. It is expected that lucerne flea will continue to be problematic over the next few months although warmer weather may allow stronger plants to outgrow the damage.

Click here for images of lucerne fleas and refer to PestFacts Issue No. 6 for further information.

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