Biosecurity News: Fall Armyworm is marching south

This is a BIOSECURITY ALERT FOR ALL GROWERS in northern Queensland 

Fall armyworm on the march in Far North Queensland

More detections of the invasive moth pest fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) have been made in Far North Queensland.

Suspect moths collected at South Johnstone, Tolga and Lakeland were confirmed by Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ entomologists to be fall armyworm.

These latest detections follow recent confirmed detections on two Torres Strait Islands, at Bamaga and in the north-west Gulf country and is further evidence of the pest’s ability to spread quickly.

A surveillance program for fall armyworm, which commenced on the Atherton Tablelands, Innisfail, Port Douglas, Mossman, Lakeland and Cairns regions w/c 24/2/20, will be expanded as more traps become available.

We will continue to monitor and track the spread of this pest in Queensland, so we can alert growers when they may expect to start seeing some damage to crops.

While the national technical committee that oversees the management of plant pest and disease incursions had determined that it is not technically feasible to eradicate this pest from Australia, managing the impacts of fall armyworm is our priority.

Much work is needed to prepare for and minimise the potential impacts of fall armyworm. An industry roundtable was held on Thursday 27 February 2020 and we will continue to work with industry to spread the word about the risk of this pest and also provide advice on control strategies that are available to them.

Growers should have on-farm biosecurity measures to protect their crops from pests and diseases.

More information is available at or

Industry and the general public are strongly encouraged to report suspect detections of fall armyworm moths and larvae to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.

For more information, including how to identify fall armyworm, visit

These images & the further information below has been provided by DPIRD in WA

What do I look for?

  • Larvae are most active during late summer and early autumn months and are expected to be more active in the northern wet season.
  • Evidence of the pest could include egg masses, plant leaf damage or fruit or vegetable damage.
  • There are species of Spodoptera already present in Australia which can look similar to fall armyworm. These include lawn armyworm and day feeding armyworm.
  • Fall armyworm eggs are pale yellow in colour and clustered together in a mass, which often contains 100–200 eggs. Egg masses are usually attached to foliage with a layer of mould or silk-like furry substance.
  • The larvae are light coloured with a larger darker head. As they develop, they become darker with white lengthwise stripes. They also develop dark spots with spines.
  • The adult moths are 32 to 40 mm in length wing tip to wing tip, with a brown or grey forewing and a white hind wing. Male fall armyworms have more patterns and a distinct white spot on each of their forewings.

How does the pest spread?

Adults moths can fly long distances and their migration is remarkably fast. As well as natural dispersal, they can also be spread through the movement of people.

If you see any of the stages of Fall Armyworm please REPORT IT IMMEDIATELY to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23 or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881