An extended season for native budworm

As long as pods are green in pulses and other legumes, keep your sweep net at hand.

Exceptional native budworm (Helicoverpa punctigera) moth activity in many areas, as measured by catches within a network of pheromone traps, has not been mirrored by an intense wave of caterpillar activity this season.

In the Riverina, sweep netting for budworm in faba beans, field peas and broadleaf lupins has revealed only low numbers.

Similarly, in Victoria’s Northern Country, field peas have been sampled extensively but no caterpillars were observed.

There are many factors that can be attributed to the low caterpillar infestations, particularly the wet and cold conditions that reduce egg and neonate survival rates.

With the slightly warmer conditions predicted this week, populations are expected to increase.

Canola is likely to be windrowed over the next 2-3 weeks in northern Victoria and NSW and is now unlikely to be affected by native budworm.

We predicted that 3rd instar caterpillars would first start to appear from late September to mid-October (depending on location), based on the arrival of the first large moth flight for the season.

While this was the case, large moth flights have persisted through September and October in the Victorian Mallee and Wimmera, and peaked in early October in NSW (Table 1).

High moth numbers in lupins around the Wellington region of the NSW Central West Slopes & Plains have also been reported.

Despite the patchy caterpillar numbers to date, we strongly recommend that monitoring of pulse and canola crops continue until they fully mature.

Once pulses and canola have been harvested, some summer crops that remain at risk include lucerne, soybeans, sunflower, safflower, annual medic and clovers, and cotton.

Trap locationDistrict9th Sep16th Sep23rd Sep30th Sep7th Oct14th Oct21st Oct
OuyenMallee, VIC1259426625278462399
Swan HillMallee, VIC131181303351466281440
KerangMallee, VIC18330651610829619851
RupanyupWimmera, VIC3541311663730174230
WarracknabealWimmera, VIC0000000
WonwondahWimmera, VIC275na250250050
ForbesCentral West, NSW02257379114nana
WarrenCentral West, NSW111303751
Wagga WaggaRiverina, NSW00nana168na33
Table 1. Weekly numbers of native budworm moths trapped in pheromone traps


We would like to thank the following trap operators:

Brad Bennett  – Consultant, AGRIvision (Victorian Mallee)

Jim Cronin – Agronomist, Landmark (NSW Central West Slopes & Plains)

Adam Dellwo – Agronomist, Elders (NSW Riverina)

Bill Gardner – Agronomist and Grower (Victorian Wimmera)

Shayn Healey – Agronomist, Crop-Rite Pty Ltd (Victorian Mallee)

George Hepburn – Agronomist, Tylers Hardware & Rural Supplies (Victorian Wimmera)

Damian Jones – Agronomist, Agronomic Results (Victorian Mallee)

Jake Leith – Agronomist, AGRIvision (Victorian Wimmera)

David White – Agronomist, Delta Agribusiness (NSW Riverina)

Sources of field reports

Jack Edwards – Agronomist, D & J Rural (NSW Central West Slopes & Plains)

Greg Toomey – Agronomist, Landmark (Victorian Northern Country)

David White – Agronomist, Delta Agribusiness (NSW Riverina)

Cover image: Photo by Andrew Weeks, Cesar Australia

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