Hunter Local Land Services urges landholders to be on the look out for locust

Australian Plague Locust and eggs. Photo supplied by Hunter Local land Services
Australian Plague Locust and eggs. Photo supplied by Hunter Local land Services

Hunter Local Land Services (HLLS) is working with landholders in the Upper Hunter to control a medium density Australian Plague Locust incursion.

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

Chemical control has now been issued to 16 properties where landholders notified HLLS of banding Australian Plague 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 be keeping a close eye on the situation.

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

"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 the movements of the locusts in the Upper Hunter," Luke said.

"Now they are preparing to breed, we want everyone to keep an eye on the situation and 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.

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

If you suspect Australian Plague Locusts are banding on your property, please call 1300 795 299 to speak to your nearest Hunter Local Land Services Biosecurity Officer.