NEW PROJECT: Identifying fall armyworm parasitoids

First detected infesting Far North Queensland in February 2020 fall armyworm has now been found across several Australian states and territories including, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, cementing itself as a non-eradicable pest.

Affecting the leaves, stems, and fruits of plants, the fall armyworm reduces production outputs and Australian production nurseries overall financial return. Since 2020, the rapid rise in numbers has signified a major threat to existing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices adopted across the horticultural sector.

To mitigate risk and better prepare for future incursions and spread of this pest, a new levy funded project, ‘Identifying potential parasitoids of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, and the risk to Australian Horticulture’ (MT19015), has been contracted.

Beginning in March 2021 and led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), the project aims to examine potential parasitoids of fall armyworm and deliver extension materials, including a factsheet and a guide for fall armyworms and it’s parasitoids and predators, to help growers effectively manage the pest.

The project will identify parasitoid species present in horticultural crops and provide recommendations on potential candidates for future biological control of fall armyworm, and local information on established locations, host range, infestation levels on horticultural crops and damage patterns.

The research aims of this project are to:

  • Conduct a comprehensive literature review on fall armyworm parasitoids and biological control
  • Undertake an economic risk analysis for relevant horticultural crops in Northern Australia
  • Conduct field survey and crop samplings to study fall armyworm host plants and its endemic parasitoids
  • Develop and deliver extension materials to assist growers.

It’s critical that Australian production nurseries have control options to effectively manage the threat of fall armyworm incursions, to reduce the significant production damage it causes and better protect crops from future incursions through the implementation of up-to-date IPM practices.

Further information on this project can be found here.

The ‘Identifying potential parasitoids of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, and the risk to Australian Horticulture’ (MT19015) project is a multi-industry strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Melon, Nursery, Sweet potato, Turf and Vegetable Funds.