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16 April, 2021

Insecticide differences in fall armyworm

New research indicates there are variable levels of sensitivity to some insecticides between populations of fall armyworm (FAW) in different geographical areas of Australia.

The new findings are from two complementary projects, one being a comprehensive research project into FAW’s insecticide sensitivities and genetic make-up being led by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO with co-investment by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC), FMC Australasia and Corteva Agriscience.

CSIRO researcher Wee Tek Tay says the research provides evidence that two geographically separated populations, a Western Australian population from Kununurra in the Kimberley region and a north Queensland population from Walkamin in the Tablelands region, show variable levels of sensitivity to insecticides.

“Geographic variability in insecticide responses is not unexpected and is commonly observed in the closely related species Helicoverpa armigera,” Dr Tay says.  

“The current findings don’t necessarily indicate distinct genetic differences in the populations – results of genomic analyses are pending – but they do have implications for growers trying to manage FAW in the field.”

Dr Khurana said this ongoing work was improving understanding of FAW’s genetic make-up, insecticide sensitivities and current resistance status, and would assist in the development of sustainable management strategies for the populations present in different areas of Australia.

He said the GRDC was supportive of research investigating all management options and welcomed the recent approval by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) for the importation of the biopesticide, Fawligen®, a naturally occurring caterpillar virus which specifically targets FAW.

This decision will allow the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the Australian company AgBiTech to start local trial work investigating the effectiveness of the virus in Australia and assessing any potential adverse impacts.

Dr Khurana said the GRDC was currently involved, alongside government and private industry, in further research to develop and improve FAW management stratergies.

More information about FAW and its management has been consolidated into a reference document for use by Australian grain growers, agronomists and other industry stakeholders.

The Fall Armyworm Continuity Plan captures the global experience and uses that to inform and anticipate the challenges Australian agriculture could face and how to best manage them.

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