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Locust swarm
Swarm activity of locusts have been reported across 100 kilometres of the central west, with farmers having to hand feed stock due to crop loss.

Central west, senior biosecurity officer, Rhett Robinson said said flying swarms are affecting the feed available to livestock and farmers are having to hand feed.

"There is major potential impact to sowing.

"Low density swarms can wipe out a newly emerging crop within days."

Mr Robinson said over 130 reports of locust activity had been received since January.

"We've had reports in areas such as Gilgandra, Collie, Armatree and Curban.

"Locusts have been reported north in Gulargambone and east in places such as Mendooran."

Mr Robinson said one of the biggest risk factors is medium density swarms can wipe out newly emerging crops.

"They nip off the growing tips."

Medium density swarms are usually 10 adults per square metre, and high density swarms are 50 plus."

Mr Robinson said locusts prefer cereal crops, including oats and wheat.

"There have been reports of crop loss to lucerne, where they strip all the leaves off, doing a lot of damage."

Central west Local Land Services (LLS), Team Leader Invasive Species and Plant Health, Lisa Thomas said land holders must monitor swarms to identify laying and eggbeds so prompt treatment can be undertaken to prevent further damage to emerging crops and pastures.

"The impacts of locust are about to be realised now that we have second generation locust flying with plans to lay eggs locally due to the ideal conditions."

Earlier this year an aerial survey was conducted in areas of Collie, Curban and Tooraweenah, where bands were identified.

"Due to the lush pasture conditions many smaller bands were not identified and not treated so now we have the swarm development across several parts of our region.

"Locust bands will begin to develop again by early March and reports must be made so chemical can be supplied for land holders to treat locusts as this is an obligation of all land holders," Ms Thomas said.

She said LLS biosecurity officers are validating swarm densities, environmental factors and locations to determine if there is sufficient scope to get approval to undertake aerial operations.

"Strict criteria is set by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) for the initiation of plague locust aerial campaigns and this control method must meet the requirements provided within the DPI Policy. Locust bands will begin to develop again by early March and reports must be made so chemical can be supplied for land holders to treat locusts as this is an obligation of all land holders."

She said locust activity will now move into the third generation, as present flying locusts are expected to lay eggs on local soils.

"It is critical that all locust activity is reported so chemical can be applied at the appropriate phases of development when results are best achieved. Flying locust are nearly impossible to control as there are many efficiency factors including environmental constraints and policies that restrict operations within the settled areas, so all efforts must be made to control locust on the ground at banding stages."