With bumper crops on the horizon, landholders should be on the lookout for locust activity this spring and report any sightings immediately.
Adult plague locusts usually lay eggs in harder loamy red soils, especially on compact roads next to crops, tree lines and farm buildings, especially those built on higher ground such as ridges.
Central Tablelands Local Lands Services (LLS) Senior Biosecurity Officer Alistar Gordon-Smith said Canowindra producers can always expect some of the pests, but this season is ideal for increased numbers.
“There have been higher numbers of locusts because of widespread rainfall in successive seasons and warmer weather.
This makes for ideal breeding conditions for locusts,” Mr Gordon-Smith said.
“The key control is chemical insecticide. Given the nature of the locust lifecycle, there is a limited window to control them, when they are about two to three weeks after they hatch. It’s time to control them when the nymphs are banding,” he said.
“When they’re all banding together is the best time to try and spray them.”
At the moment, conditions like this are when they start to hatch, which means the next week or two is a great time to spray. By the time they’re adults it’s too late to spray.
Mr Gordon-Smith said locusts are very reliant on green leafy food sources, potentially affecting very large areas of crops and pasture.
“They will strip all food sources available. They will consume or damage crops or all vegetation in their path,” he said.
“Their stripping is very similar to very heavy grazing.”
The western Central Tablelands – including the Canowindra and Cowra regions – is typically where there will be a decent-sized annual population.
There haven’t been plague proportions for a decade, but there will be a high density of numbers this season.
Mr Gordon-Smith said when looking out for eggs and nymphs, an increased population of birds, like ibis, is a sign.
LLS biosecurity staff and the DPI are trained in locust identification and control options, so if you think you’ve found signs of activity, reach out immediately.