Slater damage in Swan Hill

A report of slater damage to crops at Swan Hill makes this the most westerly report of slaters received in the Victorian Mallee.

Where have they been reported?

Slaters have been observed in reasonable densities feeding on canola seedlings in the Swan Hill area of the Victorian Mallee. Mostly juvenile slaters were attacking cotyledons and the first and second true leaves, removing chunks of leaf tissue.

Overall, the pest damage was not great, but it was exacerbated due to the plants being under moisture stress; control was partially implemented.

The crop had been planted into pea stubble, which is typically less dense than cereal stubble, so it is surprising that slaters were found in such high numbers.

An unusual report

Anecdotally, there appears to be a strong correlation between slaters and minimum tillage and stubble retention.

Heavy stubble provides a cool, moist refuge that enhances survival and population development.

Slaters are also more commonly found in crumbly clay soil surfaces and cracking clays, which seem to favour their survival.

Slaters require relatively moist conditions and will die if exposed to open and dry situations for extended periods.

However, the occurrence of slaters in this Mallee crop, in a relatively moisture stressed environment, suggests that these generalisations may be breaking down. It is also the most westerly point in the Mallee that slaters have been reported to PestFacts.

The species of this slater is unclear at this time. 

About slaters

Slaters are omnivores or scavengers and feed upon decaying vegetable matter and associated fungi and also on animal matter. They form an important link in the food chain by recycling dead and decaying matter.

However, slaters can cause significant feeding damage, (particularly on canola seedlings but also on wheat, oats, lentils and pastures), leading to seedling mortality and stunted plant growth.

For detailed information about these pests, and for advice on preventative management strategies,go to Slaters within the new PestNote series.


Sources of field reports of slaters

Luke Maher – Agronomist, AGRIvision Consultants (Victorian Mallee)

Cover image: Photo by Josh Douglas

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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