Australian plague locusts sighted in SA - Elders Rural Services

Australian plague locusts sighted in SA

When Elders Burra Agronomist Thomas Drew saw large locusts flying about in the Burra, Leighton and Mount Bryan region over the past few weeks he was curious.

It wasn’t until he captured one that he was able to confirm it was the dreaded Australian plague locust (Chortoicetes terminifera).

“I reported it straight away to PIRSA (Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA)” Drew said.

“They said it was the first confirmed sighting in SA, although they are also monitoring large populations in northern and eastern states.”

close-up-captured-plague-locust-in-plastic-bagThe captured Australian plague locust captured near Burra by Thomas Drew.

It’s not uncommon for large locust swarms to develop after rain in the warmer months, such as we’ve recently experienced in Queensland and northern New South Wales. Often aided by warm winds they are able to migrate hundreds of kilometres to South Australia.

Here the locusts feed on any green stubble or crops. Drew said they were particularly prevalent where wireweed was present for an easy feed. It is also here where the locusts’ mate.

The female lays her eggs in the bare ground where they remain in a state of diapause until conditions improve, typically in spring.

“That’s when farmers need to be vigilant. Look for hoppers in their juvenile stage.”

The Australian plague locust can be identified by the large dark spot on the tip of the hindwings and distinctive scarlet hindleg shanks. Adult males measure 25-30 mm long while females are 30-42 mm long.

You can monitor and report sightings via PIRSA’s Pest Facts map


Header image: large female Australian plague locust laying eggs. Credit: SARDI.

For help in controlling locusts and other pests, contact your local Elders branch.

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