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First Locust hatchings reported

The Central Tablelands Local Land Services are asking landholders in the Mudgee, Gulgong and Dunedoo areas to remain vigilant by inspecting their properties for the presence of plague locust nymphs as daytime temperatures continue to rise.

Reports of locust nymphs emerging from the ground have been taken from the Wilbertree, Lowes Peak, Gulgong and Tallawang areas. Initial inspections carried out by Local Land Services Biosecurity Officers have confirmed the hatchings to be plague locusts and landholders that have reported hatching will soon be armed with chemical to control the insects once they reach a suitable density.

The first hatchings have occurred on bare ground where the soil temperature has had the opportunity to become warm enough for the locust eggs to complete development and hatch nymphs. It is envisaged that further hatching will occur in areas where there is grass cover and the ground has not yet sufficiently warmed to complete egg development.

Once landholders report the presence of locusts on their properties an inspection is carried out by Local Land Services to determine species and stage of development. If the infestation is confirmed and is at a density and stage which warrants spraying, landholders will be issued with chemical to control the outbreak.

Eggs that were deposited in the ground during late autumn go into diapause (dormant phase) over winter and do not complete full development until the onset of spring. Locust eggs go through 21 phases of development before the nymphs emerges.  Egg pods throughout the district have been surveyed to assist in accurately forecasting when the locust nymphs are likely to emerge.

Hatching will generally only occur when soil moisture is available and soil temperature reaches 19- 25oc. Once hatching has occurred the nymphs complete five stages of growth called instars.

Control of nymphs can take place after the second instar stage when the nymphs converge to form a dense concentration called a band. This stage occurs at around ten days after hatching. Each instar relates to the development of the nymph and its wing buds, until the final growth stage where they are able to take to flight and become fledglings. Once locusts fledge they become more visible and very mobile. Unfortunately this is when a lot of reports are made but it is too late to obtain effective control.

A landholder information meeting will be held at the Gulgong RSL Club at 2:30pm on Tuesday 13/10/2015. Attendees will be provided with an update on locust activity in the region, control options and a forecast for the spring summer period.

If you suspect you had locusts lay on your property in the autumn or currently have hatchings report them to the Mudgee LLS office on 6378 1700 or for further information of the meeting next week contact Senior Biosecurity Officer Mal Leeson on 0428 721 860.

General information on locusts is available on the NSW DPI website

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause on 0439608370