Brown pasture looper is mostly a minor pest, but can sometimes cause substantial damage to legumes and canola
Where have they been reported?
Brown pasture loopers (Ciampa arietaria) have been reported causing damage to a mixed pasture paddock in Howlong, in the NSW Riverina. Most chewing damage occurred to lucerne plants, although some damage was also noticed on the subclovers.
About brown pasture looper
Larvae of brown pasture looper are dark brown to grey with a distinctive wavy yellow line along the back either side of a conspicuous dark band. They have red colouration surrounding the breathing holes (spiracles) along the sides of the body, and can grow to 20–35 mm in length. They use their single pair of abdominal prolegs and one pair of anal prolegs to move using a series of back arches, which results in a characteristic looping motion.
Brown pasture looper caterpillars attack lucerne, lupin and canola crops, as well as clover pastures and broadleaved weeds. They have one generation per year and generally become noticeable from July onwards. Brown pasture loopers are often prevalent around patches of weeds, particularly capeweed and storksbill, and around the edges of crops.
Control of brown pasture loopers can be assisted by natural enemies including parasitic wasps, which attack the eggs. They are also prey to spined predatory shield bugs and glossy shield bugs as young larvae. Control of summer and autumn weeds (especially capeweed and storksbill) along fence lines can help prevent larvae moving into crops. If chemical control is warranted, there are several insecticides registered against brown pasture loopers, however spot spaying or perimeter spraying is usually all that is required.
Click here for further information on brown pasture loopers.
Sources of field reports of brown pasture looper
Rob Harrod – Senior farm advisor, Elders (NSW Riverina)