Russian Wheat Aphid

FITE The Russian Wheat Aphid:

  • Find – Look for aphids and the characteristic plant symptoms of infection including leaf streaking or leaf rolling on cereal crops and grasses;

  • Identify – Positively identify RWA by consulting with an industry specialist;

  • Threshold approach – Before deciding on your plan of attack consider thresholds for control, the presence of natural aphid enemies in the crop, crop growth stage and potential yield losses;

  • Enact – Take appropriate action: Manage your next steps including encouraging beneficial insects and protecting honeybees before implementing control options.

  • RWA Green Bridge Surveillance

    Areas of green bridge close to cereal paddocks could be harbouring Russian Wheat Aphid between cropping seasons. So as part of a GRDC investment, research facility cesar is conducting surveillance work to identify locations where RWA are over summering and what beneficial insects are also present in the green bridge.

Russian wheat aphid (RWA) is the latest broadacre crop pest to challenge Australian grain growers.

First identified in South Australia in 2016, RWA is now present in many cropping areas of SA, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. More recently, it has been detected as far north as Coonabarabran and the Liverpool Plains in NSW.

At this stage, RWA has not been detected in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

In 2017, Australian scientists confirmed that the RWA now established throughout parts of the nation’s south-eastern cropping regions is a single biotype (having the same genetic make-up).

This knowledge, achieved through research investments by the GRDC, is underpinning ongoing and future research efforts aimed at providing the Australian grains industry with greater understanding of the pest and its potential impact, to inform management strategies.

In addition to experiments to determine aphid biotype, the GRDC has been investing in research to determine the level of susceptibility or resistance of commercial wheat and barley cultivars to RWA; assessing potential sources of plant resistance; RWA biology, ecology and economic thresholds under Australian conditions; an investigation into alternate hosts for RWA; trials looking at insecticide efficacy; development of a risk forecasting tool; and provision of practical resources for growers and advisers.

While plant resistance has been deployed as a management strategy in areas of the world where RWA is a serious risk, the aphid has responded through the evolution of new biotypes attacking these resistant plants.

The GRDC is therefore emphasising that genetic plant resistance will not be “the solution” to RWA control, but it will form part of an integrated pest management strategy that includes green bridge management, agronomic practices, strategic use of insecticides, and exploitation of natural enemies of the pest.

In the meantime, the GRDC continues to promote the FITE (find, identify, threshold approach and enact) strategy which has been developed to provide growers and advisers with a simple guide to RWA management. It involves:

  • Find – Look for aphids and the characteristic plant symptoms of infection including leaf streaking or leaf rolling on cereal crops and grasses;
  • Identify – Positively identify RWA by consulting with an industry specialist;
  • Threshold approach – Before deciding on your plan of attack consider thresholds for control, the presence of natural aphid enemies in the crop, crop growth stage and potential yield losses;
  • Enact – Take appropriate action: Manage your next steps including encouraging beneficial insects and protecting honeybees before implementing control options.

This page will be updated with more information on RWA as the research progresses.

Resources