The NSW Nationals in the state government are urging farmers to be on the lookout for signs of damage and the presence of fall armyworm larvae in summer crops following the recent trapping of moths in NSW.

NSW Nationals Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said moths were first trapped near a sorghum crop near Moree during routine surveillance of the early warning trapping network established by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS).

“Fall armyworm is an insect pest that poses a serious threat to a range of crops,” Mr Johnsen said.

“While it has been found in a small number of locations, it is anticipated that migratory flights of the pest will occur annually across NSW and fall armyworm may establish in some of the warmer parts of the state.

“Farmers need to be on the lookout for signs of fall armyworm, which include windowing of leaves where larvae have hatched and small shot holes as leaves expand, caused by larvae feeding in the developing leaf whorl.”

NSW Nationals Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the best way to minimise the spread and impact of the pest was to identify the signs and symptoms early.

“Farmers should monitor crops, particularly sorghum and maize, regularly for signs of fall armyworm damage, egg masses and larvae,” Mr Marshall said.

“Control weeds and volunteer plants in fallow paddocks, along fence lines and around buildings to reduce the number of pest hosts.

“DPI and LLS can provide information on fall armyworm control options available to growers.”

Fast action to manage small larvae is recommended by NSW DPI and Local Land Services (LLS) to maximise control and help minimise further spread by restricting local infestations.

What should you do?

Anyone who suspects the presence of fall armyworm should immediately call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

For small larvae, the Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services recommends retaining samples with food, such as host crop leaves, and allow them to grow to enable photographs to be taken.

In most cases, NSW DPI will be able to identify larvae from clear photographs which can be sent via an online form or to biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au with your contact details.

DPI continues to work with potentially affected industries providing free insect diagnostics for suspect fall armyworm moths and larvae, advice on control and chemical management options.

More information on identification, treatment options and resistance management is available on DPI and LLS websites.

Farmers should contact their LLS staff or regular agronomist for advice on fall armyworm management.