CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — The Russian wheat aphid, a foreign pest, was found in crops in South Australia, the Grain Producers of Australia (GPS) said on June 4.

GPA is currently urging grain growers nationally to check wheat and barley crops for signs of the insect. 

Barry Large, GPA biosecurity spokesman, said the grain industry’s biosecurity systems in all states are fully operational to address this incursion, working with plans developed several years ago through the national plant biosecurity coordination agency, Plant Health Australia, which were funded with the assistance of the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

“All agencies with biosecurity responsibilities around the country are aware of the aphid discovery and are responding accordingly,” Large said. “Aphids like this can travel on the wind and spread quickly, so one of the first actions growers can take is to look for aphids on their farms and report any they see or suspect to the national Emergency Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.”

“These aphids are readily identifiable both as the insect and through the crop damage they can do, so growers should look at the photos, download them onto their phones and check their crops,” Large said. “Discovering the extent and any ongoing spread of the incursion is crucial, which is why everyone has a role to play, even if you think you may be far from the identified area.”

State departments of agriculture are also releasing information to help growers and advisors and are seeking reports of any suspected Russian wheat aphid sightings.

“Biosecurity is something every grain grower holds close to their heart because of the risk to their livelihood,” Large said. “It is why Grain Producers Australia is a signatory to Australia’s Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed and why GPA devotes so much effort to working with Plant Health Australia on grain industry biosecurity.”

“Plant pests and diseases are well known around the world and planning for potential outbreaks is what smart industries do – it’s why we develop contingency plans and coordination, why there are people in organizations across Australia who know those plans, and why we rehearse the actions to be as prepared as possible for any incursion,” he said.

For more information about the pest, click here.