The fall armyworm is continuing to spread across North Queensland and has now been detected as far south as Bowen. The pest was first detected in Australia on two Torres Strait islands in January, before reaching the mainland at Bamaga in February. It was then detected on a property in the Gulf country, and in South Johnstone, Tolga and Lakeland.
Last week, it was confirmed that the pest had been found in the Burdekin, with the latest detection being recorded at Bowen.
The animal 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.
Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association president Carl Walker said fall armyworm had made it to the region over a week ago, but its presence was only confirmed in recent days. Walker urged growers to be vigilant in checking their crops: "We are taking it seriously, the biggest concern with these new pests or diseases from overseas is that they may already have resistance to the chemicals we rely on. Growers need to remember not to overuse their chemicals, as the misuse of chemicals can cause resistance."
Fall armyworm, which is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, has spread across the globe and since 2016 been detected in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China and South East Asia.
According to queenslandcountrylife.com.au¸ the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests has determined that it is not technically feasible to eradicate fall armyworm from Australia as it has never been eradicated anywhere else in the world.