Georgetown has become the latest location to be impacted by the invasive fall armyworm, as the pest was detected in a trial maize crop. The agricultural pest was first detected on two islands in the Torres Strait last month, before making it to the mainland where it was found at Bamaga.
The exotic pest has the potential to wipe out agricultural crops, and at the larval stage feeds on more than 350 plant species including cultivated grasses such as maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat, as well as fruit and vegetable and cotton crops.
Representatives from peak industry groups including Canegrowers, Growcom, AgForce and AusVeg met with members of the Department or Agriculture and Fisheries last week.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said a coordinated approach was needed to manage the serious threat: "Key issues identified during the roundtable included identifying suitable control products, determining what industry needs are, monitoring the spread of the pest, and market access.”
Furner continued that the government recognised the serious threat posed by the fall armyworm moth to Queensland's agriculture industry. "Fall armyworm is an invasive pest that is voracious and is not a fussy eater," he told northqueenslandregister.com.au. "The wide host range of the adult moth and its voracious larvae means it has the real potential to cause significant production losses across a number of industries."
He added that it is not technically feasible to eradicate the pest from Australia. He said a great deal of work would be required to help industry and other stakeholders prepare for and manage the impacts of fall armyworm.
Traps have been set in Coen, Mossman, Port Douglas, Cairns, the Atherton Tableland and Innisfail to monitor its spread.