Australians Warned Of Locust Swarms As Clusters Spotted In Victoria
Forget the 10 plagues of Egypt – this year it’s apparently all about the plagues of 2020, and unfortunately for Australia, locusts feature in both.
Residents in Victoria found themselves hit by clusters of the pests after spring rain storms provided perfect conditions for them to breed.
Agriculture Victoria warned that the native locusts had been spotted in western and north western parts of Victoria, causing ‘small local clusters’, rather than swarms. However, the problem could worsen if the warm, wet weather continues.
The authority explained that higher than average rainfall in eastern Australia produced an abundance of green feed, which in turn has contributed to high survival rates of hatchlings from the eggs laid in the autumn.
Do not underestimate the damage from either hoppers or adult locusts on crops or pastures.
Control of the current spring generation and forthcoming summer generation is important to managing the risk of heavy egg laying in autumn and the potential for a large population build up leading into the 2021 — 2022 season.
While locusts are not an issue on their own, if they swarm they could threaten farm crops and make for difficult visibility on the roads. They can also get sucked into the radiator of cars, causing them to overheat.
Agriculture Victoria is urging anyone who sees locusts to contact the organisation so it can monitor the populations, noting that landholders are responsible for reporting and controlling locusts on their land.
The authority has advised drivers to slow down, turn on headlights, use windscreen wipers and monitor the temperature gauge if they come across a swarm of locusts.
For farmers, Agriculture Victoria advises cutting crops for hay or windrowing them in preparation for harvest to minimise locust damage or eliminate the need for chemical control.
Australian plague locusts measure up to 30mm long and can be readily distinguished from other species by a large dark spot on the tip of the wings and distinctive scarlet legs.
If the insects swarm, it may persist for many days. They feed on emerging shoots from the soil and can fly up to 20 kilometres in one day, often heading the direction of the coast.
Plague locusts are typically found inland and in more regional parts of New South Wales (NSW) and southern Queensland, but if conditions are right locusts from the Riverina and other parts of NSW can cross the border into Victoria, even previously making it as far as Melbourne.
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