Current locust situation

​Locust situation 2 October 2019

This page summarises the known distribution of locusts during September and provides a brief outlook to December 2019. Regional information and forecasts are given in the latest locust bulletin.

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Australian Plague Locust (Chortoicetes terminifera)

The locust population level remained low over most inland regions of eastern Australia throughout 2018-19. Only sporadic low density breeding occurred, maintaining the overall low population densities. Vegetation in most areas that received rainfall during summer dried out rapidly and habitats became increasingly dry in autumn. Low food availability combined with prolonged high temperatures are likely to have contributed to increased mortality of nymphs and adults.

Heavy flood rains (>100 mm) in western Queensland during February and March produced habitat conditions suitable for locust breeding. Floodwaters moved down the channels of the Thompson, Diamantina and Georgina rivers and the Eyre Creek during March and April, extending the vegetation response southwards in late autumn and winter. Surveys in western Queensland in April and May 2019 identified a moderate increase in adult numbers over preceding months and low density nymphs were recorded in some locations of the Southwest and Northwest regions. Subsequent surveys of these regions during September recorded a similar population level. Low density adults were widespread, but most were recently fledged from a winter nymph generation. Localised medium density adults and residual low density late-instar nymphs were identified in the Windorah area. Vegetation remained green in flood-out areas during winter, but was becoming dry in most areas by September.

Surveys recorded very few locusts in the Riverina, Central West and Northwest Plains regions of New South Wales in late autumn. Low density adults were identified in the Tibooburra and Bourke districts of the Far West region in May, representing a small increase in numbers over preceding months. Late autumn rainfall in parts of the Far West and Far Southwest and Riverina regions produced green vegetation during winter, which became dry during September. September survey of the Far Southwest region recorded only occasional adults. There have been no reports from the Central Tablelands or Hunter regions, despite locust populations developing in those areas in summer.

Surveys in South Australia over the previous summer and autumn recorded very few locusts. Survey of the Northeast region in late September did not detect any locusts. Habitat conditions are green in southern regions but remain very dry in the northern half of the state.

In Victoria, locust numbers remained very low in inland areas during autumn. Habitat conditions have improved after winter rainfall, but the locust population is likely to remain at low densities during spring. Some nymphs could develop during spring from eggs laid by the local population in the Omeo Valley area of East Gippsland.

The spring outlook is for continuing low population densities in most regions of inland eastern Australia. Drought conditions across much of New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland have resulted in very low locust population levels and unfavourable habitat conditions. It is likely that more than one generation of successful breeding would be necessary to produce large population increases. The Bureau of Meteorology seasonal outlook indicates that below average rainfall and above average temperatures are likely to continue over coming months. Therefore there is a low likelihood of high density populations developing in any inland region during spring.

There is a very low probability of widespread regional infestations developing in spring or December.

Spur–throated Locust (Austracris guttulosa)

The population level of this species remained very low throughout 2018-19. Only low density adults were recorded by surveys in Queensland and no nymphs were detected. Very few adults were recorded in New South Wales or South Australia. This was one of the smallest annual populations recorded in APLC survey regions and is likely be the result of a low summer breeding population base and the late and sporadic wet season rainfall over the last two years.

The heavy rainfall in the Northwest, Central West and Gulf regions of Queensland during autumn provided suitable habitat for autumn breeding. However, surveys during April and May in Northwest and Central West Queensland recorded only low density adults and no nymphs were detected. Locust habitats in the Queensland Central Highlands remained mostly dry during summer and autumn. Nymphs and eggs are susceptible to desiccation and high mortality can occur in dry habitat conditions.

Surveys of Southwest and parts of Northwest Queensland in early September recorded Isolated density adults in areas associated with residual green vegetation from the flooding during autumn.

There is a low risk of a widespread infestation developing during spring 2019 or summer 2020.

Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria)

Adult locusts were recorded at very low density in a few locations in Southwest and Central West Queensland, and north of Clermont in the Central Highlands during May. Habitat conditions have become mostly dry in areas where this species was detected.

There is a low risk of a widespread infestation developing during spring or December 2019.

Locust forecasting regions

Map of forecasting regions 

Map of forecasting regions with potential locust habitats shaded yellow