Friday, 28 February 2020
The management of caterpillars in Australian production nurseries is crucial, with approximately 10,000 species of moths and butterflies posing a biosecurity threat to the industry. The recent detection of fall armyworm in Northern Queensland reinforces the need to be well informed on best management practices.
Caterpillars damage plants by physically removing plant tissue causing window-like holes in leaves. Though newly hatched larvae only cause minimal lower leaf damage, as they grow they consume a much greater volume of food, leaving behind larger holes, rapidly increasing the amount of damage caused.
It’s important that crops are consistently monitored in order to control any infestations and minimise the risk of the pest spreading. Caterpillar infestations are best managed if the lifecycle is broken early.
There are a number of caterpillar management recommendations that growers should consider to minimise the biosecurity threat in their production businesses.
Regular plant health inspections are strongly encouraged, allowing growers to:
- Identify the infestation sooner
- Keep populations under control
- More effectively manage the incursion whilst it’s considered lower risk.