Landholders urged to keep a lookout for locusts

A locust and its eggs
A locust and its eggs

Hunter Local Land Services is working with landholders to control a small Australian Plague Locust incursion.

While recent rain has been widely welcomed by producers, it has also provided good conditions for surviving locusts to breed.

Chemical control has now been issued to 16 properties in the Upper Hunter, where landholders notified Hunter Local Land Services of banding locusts.

Banding means locusts come together to feed on the ground as a group, before they prepare to fly to a nesting location and lay eggs.

Invasive Species Team Leader Luke Booth said landholders need to keep a close eye on the situation.

"When they are banding, this is the only stage where they can be sprayed, as once they are on the wing, it is too late," said Luke. "We can supply landholders with chemicals to control banding locusts, and are already working with a number of property owners.

"If you suspect locusts are banding on your property, it is important you get in touch with your nearest biosecurity officer as soon as possible."

Hunter Local Land Services has had a strong response from producers and the wider community, reporting locust sightings this year.

"When locusts were first reported in summer, we received hundreds of reports from the community and were able to map their movements," said Mr Booth

"Now they are preparing to breed, we want everyone to get in contact again if you are concerned about locust activity in your area."

In the autumn eggs are often laid in bare soil, frequently on clay pans or hard ground along tracks and fences.

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.

If you suspect Australian Plague Locusts are banding on your property, call 1300 795 299.

You can find more about Australian Plague Locusts by visiting http://www.agriculture.gov.au/pests-diseases-weeds/locusts/about/australia