Locust war continues in Victoria

Posted by Josette Dunn on 10th November 2010

Victorian Agriculture Minister Joe Helper has praised Victorians for their commitment to reporting sightings of locusts and said locust hatchings in the north-west of the state were now at the stage where spraying needed to be done.”Locust bands to the north of Wyperfeld National Park in north-west Victoria have now reached mid-instar stage which means it’s time to spray before they start to disperse,” Mr Helper said.

“Depending on weather, locusts could reach adult stage in parts of Victoria within two weeks.”

Mr Helper said we had now passed the milestone of 5000 reports of Australian Plague Locust sightings since September.

“This kind of response to a campaign of this nature is unprecedented. The information we have received has allowed the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to effectively plan its campaign in areas where the presence of locusts might have otherwise gone unnoticed,” he said.

“What it shows is that the public are taking seriously what could be the worst locust plague in 75 years. If locusts are left untreated they could strip $2 billion from Victorian agricultural industries.

“To their further credit, the vast majority of samples sent in to our entomologists have proved to be Australian Plague Locusts so I am thankful for the commitment Victorians have shown.

Mr Helper said the Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) had begun spraying this week.

“The APLC has started spraying in parts of the north-west of the state in close collaboration with DPI,” he said.

“The APLC’s role is to undertake treatment to reduce the risk of migration of locusts to other states, where there is a threat of this occurring. They will spray relatively small tracts of land with the specific intention of protecting state boundaries.

“This spraying is on top of the Brumby Government’s $43.5 million war on locust campaign and the great work private landholders are doing in fighting the locust threat.

“The Victorian Government’s efforts in the war on locusts continued today and included field crews in Horsham completing roadside surveillance around the Wimmera with air surveillance teams expecting to be operating in the region tomorrow depending on weather conditions.”

Mr Helper said over the coming weeks Victorians would start to see locust swarms.

“Over recent months, the Government and landholders have worked hard to minimise the locust threat by identifying locust egg beds and spraying locust hoppers,” he said.

“But as we have said in the past, it is not possible to eliminate every locust, so there will be swarms, but we are doing everything we can to minimise the extent of the swarms and the damage they may cause.”