Hundreds of thousands of locusts in multiple swarms are laying eggs across NSW’s west, Murray Local Land Services says.

Key points:

  • Locusts are swarming and egg-laying in parts of NSW’s western Murray region
  • Landholders are being urged to report sightings
  • Murray Local Land Services fear it could turn into a plague

There have been reports of swarms west of Urana to Wanganella, north to Carrathool and south of Deniliquin.

The swarms pose a threat to the region’s crops and pastures as the paperclip-sized insects eat plant material.

Regional pest animal coordinator John Nolan said ground control was undertaken earlier this year.

“Some of the smaller patches were probably missed or didn’t get seen because of the isolation [of the properties] and that’s what we’re dealing with now,” Mr Nolan said.

He also said ideal weather conditions, including a wet spring, have caused the insects to become a problem for the first time in 10 dry years.

A large number of locusts on a mostly barren patch of paddock.

Locusts can cause significant damage to crops and pastures.(Supplied: John Nolan/Murray Local Land Services)

“[There] was high survival of eggs in the ground because there was moisture in the ground,” Mr Nolan said. 

“When the nymphs have hatched they’ve had good green conditions, so there’s been high survival of the nymphs.

“Now the adults are flying and they haven’t wanted to go anywhere because the conditions have been so good, and now they’re developing eggs.”

Locusts can produce an alarming number of eggs at a time.

“They can do that a few times if the conditions remain good, so they can lay a few times over a few weeks or a month.”

A large chunk of hard soil filled with small oval-shaped eggs.

Locust eggs embedded into the soil.(Supplied: John Nolan/Murray Local Land Services)

Small window to act

Even though locusts only live for a few months, they can cause immense damage.

“If you look at the population now and you times it by 30 or a 100, that is what you’re looking at if you don’t control it,” Mr Nolan said.

A man wearing glasses smiles at the camera.

John Nolan is concerned about a potential outbreak or plague.(Supplied: John Nolan/Murray Local Land Services)

He’s urging landholders to report any activity they see.

“You only have a very small window to treat locusts on the ground.

“We can come out, provide technical support and if things get really bad, there are chemical options we can help with if landholders, once we assess the situation.

“As they get older, the bands will disperse, ground control will be less effective and then they’ll fledge and become swarms again.”

Ideal weather conditions see locusts become a problem for the first time in a decade
Source:
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