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Locust watch reminder for wheatbelt

Residents, local shires and sporting clubs in the wheatbelt are reminded to be on the lookout for Australian plague locusts.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development entomologist Svetlana Micic said while locust numbers had been relatively low this spring, there had been reports of loose swarms in agricultural areas and more recently, locust activity in towns.

“We have received reports of locusts feeding at town amenities including turf and gardens, at Northam, York, Beverley and Southern Cross,” Ms Micic said.

“Green plants, bushes, turf and lawn may be at risk of damage from adult locusts, particularly as crops hay off and locusts search for green feed.”

Ms Micic reminded landholders, particularly local governments or sporting associations, to monitor their gardens and lawns to determine whether control was required.

“If insecticide spraying of adult locusts is required, it needs to be done quickly so frequent monitoring is important,” she said.

“Other management options include using insect netting over plants that owners want to protect. The netting should not be green.

“A naturally occurring fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae, which is available commercially, is another option for locust control but it takes several days to have an effect and it will not protect the plants if damage is already occurring.”

She said travellers could also consider attaching an insect screen, not green in colour, to their external radiator air-inlet to give protection to vehicles.

The alert follows an earlier reminder to broadacre farmers to monitor hopper and adult locust numbers and to undertake control measures where needed.

Landholders are reminded to follow label directions when using chemicals.