Native budworm moths are present in major cropping regions of Victoria and southern NSW

Native budworm moth activity has been low – but they are not absent.

Native budworm (Helicoverpa punctigera) breeds during winter on flowering plants in inland Australia when there is sufficient rainfall for broadleaf vegetation to flourish (they have a very wide host range!).

When this inland vegetation dies off in late winter/spring, the caterpillars pupate, and moths emerge in readiness to migrate to agricultural regions.

Moth trap results

One month ago our network of agronomists and growers set up native budworm (Helicoverpa punctigera) moth traps in Victoria and southern NSW.

So far, the data reveals that moth activity has been relatively low (table 1).

A catch from last week in Ouyen (Victorian Mallee) has been the biggest to date this season, with ~40 native budworm moths caught. This catch was revealed in a Trapview automated pest monitoring system, which we are trialing alongside conventional green funnel traps thanks to ADAMA Australia.

Traps in South Australia operated by SARDI have caught much larger numbers (600 in one trap!) , however at this stage it is unknown if south-eastern Australia will experience flights of the same magnitude – this will be influenced by the occurrence of warm north-westerly winds, and behaviour of high and low troughs above south-east Australia over the coming weeks.

LocationRegionWeek ending 17/8Week ending 24/8Week ending 31/8
OuyenMallee, VIC3014
Ouyen**Mallee, VIC21443
Swan HillMallee, VIC1463
KerangMallee, VIC320
RupanyupWimmera, VIC001
Rupanyup**Wimmera, VIC001
MarnooWimmera, VICn/a02
LaharumWimmera, VICn/a03
ParkesCentral West, NSW000
GriffithsRiverina, NSW1n/a0
Wagga WaggaRiverina, NSWn/a00
Yerong CreekRiverina, NSWn/a00
Yerong Creek**Riverina, NSW002
DeniliquinRiverina, NSW221
Table 1. Number of native budworm moths caught in pheromone traps. **Inidcates use of Trapview automated pest monitoring system.

Interpreting moth trap results

Although numbers have been low to date, it’s important to note that moths have been caught in most major cropping areas of Victoria and southern NSW.

The use of pheromone traps is to provide an early warning of moth arrival and abundance.

Low moth numbers don’t necessarily translate to a low caterpillar burden.

That is, the very presence of moths means that crops are still at risk of damage by ensuing native budworm caterpillar populations. So, keep your sweep nets handy during spring. 

For more information on native budworm, including monitoring and threshold guidelines, visit out comprehensive PestNote.


Many thanks to the coordinators and counters participating in our moth trap program, including:  

Brad Bennett, AGRIvision (Mallee, VIC)

Adam Dellwo, Elders (Riverina, NSW)

Rob Fox, AGRIvision (Wimmera, VIC)

Bill Gardner (Wimmera VIC)

Sarah Groat, Ag Grow Agronomy and Research (Riverina, NSW)

Barry Haskins, Ag Grow Agronomy and Research (Riverina, NSW)

Shayn Healey, Crop-Rite (Mallee, VIC)

George Hepburn, Tylers Hardware and Rural Supplies (Wimmera, VIC)

Damian Jones, Irrigated Cropping Council (Mallee, VIC)

Annieka Paridaen, Premier Ag Consultancy Group (South West, VIC)

Andrew Rice, ASPIRE agri (Central West Slopes & Plains, NSW)

David White, Delta Agribusiness (Riverina, NSW)

Rachel Whitworth, Ag Grow Agronomy and Research (Riverina, NSW)

Cover image: Photo by Andrew Weeks, Cesar Australia

What is Pestfacts south-eastern?

PestFacts south-eastern keeps growers and advisers informed about invertebrate pests and beneficials in broadacre crops and pastures during the winter-cropping season in Victoria and southern New South Wales.


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Since 2019 PestFacts south-eastern has been running through IPMforGrains: Best Practice Insect Pest Management, a project delivered by the National Pest Information Network (Cesar Australia, DPIRD, QDAF, NSW DPI, and SARDI). This project aims to provide grain growers and advisors with information on invertebrate grain pest occurrence and equip industry with the knowledge needed to implement integrated pest management practices. This initiative is a GRDC investment and includes in-kind contributions from all project partner organisations.

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