Since its detection in Northern Australia in early 2020, fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) has migrated to other regions and has now been detected as far south as Victoria, despite the pest previously thought to only like warm and damp climates.

An East Gippsland seed production manager’s crop surveillance in maize helped detect fall armyworm in Victoria for the first time in December 2020.

According to Mirage News, Marni Riordan placed traps out to check for fall armyworm after seeing firsthand the impact the pest was having on crops in Queensland.

“At Gippsland Seed Services, we crop maize, sweet corn and popcorn for seed, all of which fall army worm could have a large impact on,” Ms Riordan said.

“When it was reported north of the Victorian border, we wanted to know when it was in Victoria so we can best change our practices to manage the pest.”

The traps caught some moths, which Ms Riordan sent to Agriculture Victoria for diagnostics, which were confirmed as fall armyworm.

Fall armyworm was first detected on the Australian mainland in February 2020 and soon after established in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

By late September 2020, the moth had spread to Northern NSW, first detected between Moree and Boggabilla.

Now fall armyworm moths and larvae have been found in all NSW key summer cropping regions including the Central West, Riverina, Murray, and South East and in parts of Victoria. So far, there have been no confirmed detections of fall armyworm in South Australia.

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