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Fall armyworm update and alert

Publication date: 30 October 2020

Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is an exotic pest that has recently been detected for the first time in Australia. Fall armyworm was originally found on the Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Erub in January 2020. Since then it has been detected in Queensland at Bamaga, Croydon, South Johnstone, Tolga, Lakeland, the Burdekin, Bowen, Bundaberg and Emerald and in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia. Most recently, in October 2020 a single male moth was found in a trap in Northern New South Wales between Moree and Boggabilla near the Queesnland border. 

The invasive moth’s larvae can cause significant and rapid damage to crops. The pest is known to feed on more than 350 different plant species, including fruit and vegetable crops.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is leading the response and working with fellow Government agencies; Research and Development Corporations; industry groups and communities to assess the distribution, host range and threat of the pest.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment is implementing a fall armyworm national response plan with Queensland and Australia’s other states and territories.

Identifying fall armyworm

The key characteristics of fall armyworm are:

  • Adult moths are 15 to 20mm long, have a wingspan of 32 to 40mm and have brown/grey forewings and a white hindwing
  • Male moths have more patterns and a distinct white spot on their forewings
  • The eggs are pale yellow in colour and clustered together in a mass, which often contain 100–200 eggs per mass. Egg masses are attached to foliage with a layer of furry wing scales
  • Larvae are caterpillar like and are light in colour with a larger, darker head
  • For photos and further information about this pest visit: business.qld.gov.au/fallarmyworm.

If you suspect fall armyworm on your farm, you should immediately contact the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23. Early detection and reporting are essential.

More information on how to identify and protect against the pest can be found via this fact sheet and on the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website

How does fall armyworm spread?

The adult moths are capable of flying long distances aided by wind currents. All life stages can be moved on infested plant material.

When is fall armyworm most active?

Adult moths are nocturnal and are most active during warm, humid evenings.

Fall armyworm larvae are most active during late summer and early autumn months, however they can be active year-round in tropical areas.

Fall armyworm is most likely found in warm, moist regions with little forest cover.

What are the symptoms of fall armyworm and what should growers look out for?

Depending on the plant, fall armyworm can cause significant and sudden crop damage and collapse if left unchecked.

Symptoms of fall armyworm include leaf damage such as pinholes, windowing, tattered leaf margins and defoliation of plants.

Growers should also look out for tiny larvae, less than 1 mm, that are more active at night, eating pin holes and transparent windows in leaves and bigger larvae grazing on leaves, stems and fruit, and leaving behind insect excrement.

In grass-like plants, larvae are often in plant whorls where leaves branch from the stalk.

How to manage an outbreak

Early detection is essential. Regularly check all your crops or pastures for unusual insect activities.

Key to the control of any pest is an integrated pest management approach. The Department, in collaboration with industry, is working to identify strategies and tactics for the medium to long-term response.

With any pesticides used for fall armyworm, it is essential that the implications for chemical resistance development in other pests (e.g. Helicoperva) and the potential impact on natural enemies are considered. Fall armyworm is also known to rapidly develop pesticide resistance.

The APVMA has issued a number of permits for the use of certain chemicals for the control of fall armyworm. More information on minor use permits for use on fall armyworm is available on this page

Fall armyworm podcast for growers

Through the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative, an educational podcast series for growers has been developed to assist industry in managing fall armyworm.

The series is available from the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative website and will come to include five episodes featuring interviews with international experts on their experiences with the pest; two episodes with Australian scientists on current advice and knowledge gaps; and four episodes with growers and advisors discussing regional topics and responses.

This project is a collaboration between Hort Innovation and other research and development corporations including the Cotton Research & Development Corporation, Grains Research & Development Corporation, Sugar Research Australia and AgriFutures Australia.

Resources

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has developed range of resources:

Questions and answers

A question and answer (QA) sheet has been produced by DAF that provides a lot more information and actions you should and can take to prevent and manage fall armyworm. The QA sheet is available at the DAF website or by download here.

What we’re doing to help

Hort Innovation is keeping a close eye on the situation and is currently working with the relevant authorities to prepare and protect the horticulture sector against any potential spread of fall armyworm.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Working with the other research and development corporations, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and chemical registrants on the response

  • Through the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative, working with Plant Health Australia, our fellow plant research and development corporations and the government to identify gaps in our knowledge of the impact of Fall Armyworm, to help guide any research, develop and extension activities.

Emergency minor use permits

Hort Innovation has been successful in securing emergency minor use permits from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for use on fall armyworm. Please see details below:

Permit ID

Description

Date Issued

Expiry Date

Permit holder

 

Link

PER89241

Spinetoram (Success Neo or Delegate) / Fall armyworm / Various crops

6-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89259

Chlorantraniliprole (Coragen, altacor and altacor hort insecticide labels) / Fall armyworm / Various Crops

6-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89263

Emamectin (Proclaim opti insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Various crops

10-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89280

Chlorantraniliprole + Thiamethoxam Durivo insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Various crops as per the registered Durivo label

12-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89278

Indoxacarb (Avatar insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Various crops

13-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89281

Chlorantraniliprole (Coragen or Altacor hort insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Blueberries and avocados

13-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89286

Indoxacarb (Provaunt turf  insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Turf production

13-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89284

Spinetoram (Success neo snsecticide) / Fall armyworm / Leek, spring onion, shallot and galangal

16-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89285

Emamectin (Proclaim opti insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Celery (field), brassica leafy vegetables, leafy beets, silverbeet and spinach (Protected cropping), blueberries (Field and protected cropping)

16-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89290

Chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn turf insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Turf production

17-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89331

Spinetoram (Success neo insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Bulb onions

23-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89327

Spinetoram (Success neo insecticide) / Fall armyworm / Olives

24-Mar-20

31-Mar-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89293

Methomyl / Various fruit, nuts, vegetables, turf and non-bearing Ornamentals / Fall armyworm

10-Apr-20

30-Apr-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89354

Chlorantraniliprole (Altacor/Coragen) / Citrus / Fall armyworm

10-Apr-20

30-Apr-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89353

Version 2

Chlorantraniliprole (Coragen, altacor hort insecticide) /Rubus spp., tree nuts (except almonds), strawberries, parsley, root and tuber vegetables (except potatoes)  / Fall armyworm

5-May-20

31-May-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89169 V2

Pheromone lure and dichlorvos / Various situations / Fall armyworm

10-Feb-20

28-Feb-23

DAWE

 

Download permit

PER89705

Indoxacarb (Avatar Evo / Steward EC insecticide) / Sweetcorn / Fall armyworm

24-Jun-20

30-Jun-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

PER89870

Spinosad (Entrust organic insecticide) / Various vegetables, fruit, herbs and ornamentals / Fall armyworm

21-Jul-20

31-Jul-23

Hort Innovation

 

Download permit

Plant Health Australia have also secured a permit for fall armyworm that includes sweetcorn that you can access on the APVMA website here.

All efforts have been made to provide the most current, complete and accurate information on these permits, however you should always confirm all details on the APVMA website at https://portal.apvma.gov.au/permits. Details of the conditions of use associated with these permits can also be found on the APVMA site.

You can also access the Non-Performance Reporting Form for Horticultural Pesticides here. This form should be completed when an adverse experience occurs as a result of using a permit. A 'non-performance' is an unintended or unexpected effect on plants, plant products, animals, human beings or the environment, including injury, sensitivity reactions or lack of efficacy associated with the use of an agricultural chemical product(s) when used according to label (or permit) directions.

Users are advised that while the pesticide can be applied legally under the APVMA minor use permit, there can be a significant delay until the MRL gazetted by the APVMA is adopted in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Until this occurs the MRL may not be recognised and a zero tolerance may be imposed for residues of the pesticide resulting from its use according to the APVMA permit.


Please be aware that in the absence of an MRL in the Food Standards Code, the use of the pesticide according to the permit may result in the suspension of the produce in the marketplace. Please check the FSANZ website or the Australian Government ComLaw website (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/F2015L00468to confirm if there are MRL established by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.