New plan an important fall armyworm resource

Date: 13 Nov 2020

image of FAW
The national Fall armyworm Continuity Plan will assist industry representatives in preparing more localised and industry-specific communication and extension material. Photo: Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

Information about fall armyworm (FAW) and its management in grain crops has been consolidated into a reference document for use by Australian consultants and other industry professionals.

Produced with investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Fall Armyworm Continuity Plan was compiled by sustainable agriculture research organisation cesar, Plant Health Australia, the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

FAW (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a highly migratory, invasive pest that was first reported in Australia in February 2020 and quickly established across parts of northern Australia’s tropical and sub-tropical regions, including northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, and parts of Western Australia.

More recently, the pest was first detected in New South Wales in late September 2020, north of Moree. Subsequent detections were made east of Narrabri and west of Wee Waa in October 2020.

image of Olivia Reynolds
Olivia Reynolds, cesar research lead.

Australian biosecurity organisations have determined it is unfeasible to eradicate.

Olivia Reynolds, cesar research lead, said the national FAW Continuity Plan would be an important resource to aid industry in dealing with the exotic pest at this early incursion stage.

“It is intended as a reference document for professionals, specialists and consultants in preparing more localised and industry-specific communication and extension material,” Dr Reynolds said.

“This plan compiles information from international literature and expertise and provides a solid background of knowledge on the pest, which will support the development of effective management strategies, plans and information sharing networks.”

Areas addressed include FAW biology and behaviour; spread, impact and seasonal dynamics; identification and scouting; management considerations; insecticide resistance management; and extension of information.

image of Jeevan Khurana
GRDC biosecurity manager Jeevan Khurana.

GRDC biosecurity manager Jeevan Khurana says the development of the Fall Armyworm Continuity Plan is part of a GRDC-invested project, led by cesar.

“FAW has been a pest of agriculture in the Americas for a long time and is now causing problems in many parts of the world,” Dr Khurana said.

“This project has captured the global experience and used that to inform and anticipate what we face here in Australia and how best to manage it.

“Overall, there is a lot of activity occurring in Australia to ensure an effective response to FAW – across industry, state and federal governments and the private sector.

“Therefore, the GRDC is collaborating and coordinating with a range of organisations on FAW related work.

“It will take time to adjust and learn how to manage this pest, and the central objective of ongoing GRDC investment in FAW is to help develop robust and sustainable integrated pest management strategies.

In addition to the GRDC-invested project that has led to the development of the FAW Continuity Plan, key areas of current GRDC investment into FAW include:

  • Preparation and submission of Emergency Use Permit applications to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. This effort, in collaboration with other research and development corporations (RDCs) and product registrants, has so far delivered 10 chemical permits for the grains industry that each cover multiple grain crops. A summary table of these is available on the GRDC FAW portal.
  • Co-investment in and coordination of a project led by CSIRO that aims to establish current resistance levels of FAW in Australia as well as population dynamics, in comparison with global and Southeast Asian populations of this pest.
  • Co-investment with other RDCs, through the Plan Biosecurity Research Initiative, in nine podcasts that provide up-to-date and practical information about international and Australian FAW experiences in the field.
  • Ongoing investment in the National Pest Information Network that delivers support for identification, surveillance, diagnostics and advice for grains pests.

More information about FAW is available on the GRDC FAW portal and a detailed article about the FAW Continuity Plan is available on GRDC GroundCover online.

Growers are encouraged to monitor crops to identify signs of infestation early. If you suspect FAW, report immediately to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Contact details

For interviews

Olivia Reynolds, cesar
0438 276 803

Jeevan Khurana, GRDC
0428 104 946


Natalie Lee, GRDC communication manager – West
0427 189 827

Toni Somes, GRDC Communications Manager – North
0436 622 645

GRDC Project code: CES2004-003RTX