Local News

Upper Hunter landholders urged to be on the lookout for more locusts as they prepare to breed

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Landholders in the Upper Hunter are being urged to be on the lookout for more locusts as they prepare to breed.

The first infestation reported in the region in January saw six areas confirmed to have Australian plague locust populations. 

It's been ten years since the last big outbreak in the region. 

Now, Hunter Local Land Services (HLLS) staff have visited more than 140 properties and taken more reports of landholders affected by the locusts in a bid to track their movements across the district. 

HLLS Biosecurity team leader Luke Booth reports that the vast majority of inspections have shown the locusts to be in low densities, at a late stage of development making control impractical.

“When locusts are in the fourth to fifth instar stage it is unfortunately not practical to spray the locusts, it’s the second and third stages that control by spraying is the most effective and efficient especially when the locusts are banding,” said Luke Booth.

“Our staff have been visiting properties from Moonan Flat to the Bylong Valley, confirming Australian Plague Locust populations, growth stages and mapping their movements."

“We understand in the ongoing drought how unfortunate it is for producers having the added stress from locusts, which is why we want to be aware of and control early any further hatchings.”

Should the current swarms of locusts that are on the wing find the good feed required to gain body fat and reproduce, the laying of their eggs will only occur on hard, bare earth.

“If you see the locusts fly in onto dry paddocks or rocky hills, this means they may be there to lay, and we need these sightings reported as soon as possible, so we can monitor these areas for further hatchings,” said Luke.

“When we have identified the potential areas locusts may have laid constant monitoring will allow us to catch the hatchlings in the early stages making chemical control possible."

“Winter temperatures will eventually knock the locusts off, but we want to keep the population well monitored and controlled until then.”

HLLS staff are ready assist landholders to control the locusts should hatchings progress into to the banding phase.

Adults of the Australian plague locust can be readily distinguished from other species by the large dark spot on the tip of the hindwings and distinctive scarlet hindleg shanks. Adult body colour is variable and can be grey, brown or green. Adult males measure 25-30 mm long while females are 30-42 mm long.

Anyone wishing to report further locust sightings, especially banding locusts on bare earth are being asked to contact 1300 795 299.

Image credit: Hunter Local Land Services Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HunterLLS/