Fall armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda), native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, have been detected in Australia for the first time, according to ABC reports.

Six fall armyworms have been caught on the Torres Strait, in traps on Erub and Saibai islands. The larval stage of the fall armyworm moth is a pest that poses a serious biosecurity threat in Australia.

Larvae feed on more than 350 types of plants, grasses and other crops, including rice, wheat, cotton, sugar cane, sorghum, and many fruit and vegetables. In areas where the moth has taken hold, including America, China, and South-East Asia, destruction of crops has happened almost overnight.

Adult moths are 32 to 40mm from wingtip to wingtip, with a brown or grey forewing, and a white hindwing. Males have more patterns and a white spot on each forewing

The larvae are light coloured with dark heads, becoming browner as they grow, and developing white lengthwise lines and dark spots with spines.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Malcolm Letts said specialised moth traps would be placed across Queensland to detect and contain any further spread of the pest.

Farmers across the state have also been asked to report any potential sightings of the moth and its larvae.

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