Russian Wheat Aphid

Host: | Date: 24 Oct 2018

  • GRDC Podcast
    Podcast

    GRDC Podcast: Russian Wheat Aphid

    Entomologist Dr Paul Umina has been closely involved in monitoring Russian wheat aphid and liaising with farmers, and he’s gained some valuable insights into the pest’s behaviour, identification, agronomic management and strategies for prevention.

    Date: 24 Oct 2018

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The cereal pest Russian wheat aphid was first detected in Australia two years ago in South Australia’s Mid North and has since made its way into Victoria and southern NSW and across to Tasmania.

It’s a major pest of cereal crops that injects toxins into the plant during feeding which retards growth and, with heavy infestations, kills the plant.

Entomologist Dr Paul Umina has been closely involved in monitoring Russian wheat aphid and liaising with farmers, and he’s gained some valuable insights into the pest’s behaviour, identification, agronomic management and strategies for prevention.

While it’s still early days, Paul says the pest appears to be following a similar pattern to other aphids in Australian conditions and has proven quite manageable, with growers and agronomists using US guidelines for control.

While these haven’t been validated for local conditions and cereal varieties, Paul says tips such as monitoring and being aware of the highest risk period, using seed treatments to prevent infestation early in the season, reducing the green bridge between seasons and using chemicals once an economic threshold is reached have all been successful.

Fortunately, a number of beneficial insects, predatory beetles and hover flies and other species including parasitic wasps are exerting quite good biological control over the aphid.

In the south, populations are at their highest level in spring and relatively common in autumn, with numbers dropping off in the colder, wetter months of winter and in the heat of summer.

Climatic conditions are potentially more favourable for the Russian wheat aphid in northern NSW and Queensland. Paul says while aphids are known to disperse long distances on wind currents, it’s difficult to predict how quickly they’ll move north.

New infestations of Russian wheat aphid are characterised by leaf rolling and streaking of cereal plants. Growers should be mindful of symptoms of Russian wheat aphid and notify local authorities such as state agriculture departments if they are suspected to be in a crop.

Further information

Dr Paul Umina
cesar Pty Ltd
Melbourne.
pumina@cesaraustralia.com
03 9349 4723