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Diamondback moth

Growers are advised to begin monitoring for diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella). Diamondback moth (DBM) activity has been reported in canola crops in South Australia, and weather conditions over the coming weeks will influence rates of population growth, which is generally favoured by warm and dry conditions.

DBM caterpillars feed on plant foliage, stems, flower heads and pods of canola plants. They can be responsible for yield losses of up to 80%. DBM caterpillars are pale yellowish-green and tapered at each end of their body. They grow to about 12 mm in length and will often wriggle rapidly when disturbed. The moths are about 10 mm long and are grey-brown in colour. They have a characteristic whitish strip of uneven width down the back, which resembles diamond patterns.

DBM can develop insecticide resistance readily and some populations are difficult to control with insecticides. Furthermore, no single insecticide application will completely eliminate the population. In years when populations are large, a two-spray strategy is recommended. 

Sampling crops at several locations is important to determine whether numbers are increasing or decreasing before any spray decision is made. A monitoring guide has been developed for DBM that incorporates factors such as crop type, development stage, market destination and parasitism levels. Ideally, crops should be monitored using an insect sweep net at 7-10 day intervals from now through to windrowing.

Click here for further information on DBM management.

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