Russian wheat aphid management

National Technical Group advice on managing Russian wheat aphid

Russian wheat aphid

Photo by Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Grain growers are advised to monitor their crops for infestations of the newly introduced Russian wheat aphid and to report suspected infestations but to hold off spraying wherever possible until spring. That’s the advice from the Russian Wheat Aphid National Technical Group that has been set up by Plant Health Australia (PHA) to help manage the pest.

The group, which comprises experts from across the country, advises growers to monitor their crops for unusual aphid activity, being careful not to spread the pest in the process.

At present, Russian wheat aphid has been identified in parts of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, so the pest is considered notifiable in all other states and territories (Russian wheat aphid distribution map).

hotlineGrowers and agronomists are asked to take an image of the pest and its damage and to report any suspected infestations using the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 so that the range and rate of spread of the pest can be monitored. Samples of the aphids might be requested for identification, and details for each state are provided below.

Chlorpyrifos and pirimicarb are chemicals that are now listed for control of Russian wheat aphid under Emergency Use Permit APVMA 82792 but there are good reasons to hold off spraying until high thresholds are seen:

  • Sprays are not preventative.
  • Insecticides will reduce numbers of predators and other beneficials which is likely to result in a spike in numbers of Russian wheat aphid (and other aphids) in spring when temperatures increase.
  • Foraging honey bees will succumb to sprays and must be protected. Speak to local beekeepers.
  • Spraying can also foster resistance in pests so must be used only when required.

A blanket spraying approach is not recommended: rather overseas experience suggests that an integrated pest management strategy that protects beneficials is the best approach in the longer term.

If growers face a heavy infestation sprays are permitted. International advice for determining whether sprays should be used supports an economic threshold of 20 per cent of plants infested up to the start of tillering and 10 per cent of plants infested thereafter. Research is underway to provide local advice on thresholds for spraying.

Trial work is underway to provide more specific advice on management of Russian wheat aphid in Australia, including the effectiveness of a broader range of insecticide options to better inform future control.

The Russian Wheat Aphid National Technical Group comprises representatives from:

This group has been established by PHA as part of the National Management Plan, which will identify immediate control options and needs as well as longer term research and development requirements.

Updates from the group are to follow as information becomes available.

Report suspected infestations

Russian wheat aphid is not considered endemic. Report suspected infestations to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 so that the range and rate of spread is understood.

Take an image of the infestation. You might be asked to send a sample for identification.

In Victoria, submit samples using the CropSafe Sample Recording Form (see documents under heading ‘Agronomist tool kit’) .

In South Australia, send samples to PestFacts, SARDI Entomology Unit, GPO Box 397, Adelaide SA 5001.

In Queensland, call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 and email photos of aphids or symptoms on plants to plantpestdiagnostics@daf.qld.gov.au.

In Western Australia, see Biosecurity alert: Russian wheat aphid

In NSW, growers and consultants should use the online Russian Wheat Aphid Reporting Tool (click here for a reporting sheet and a diagnosis request form).

In Tasmania, the reporting of Russian wheat aphid is encouraged. The Entomology Team in Plant Diagnostic Services of DPIPWE will identify aphids suspected of being Russian Wheat Aphid at no fee. For an initial opinion, photos (with location) can be sent to 0429 852 886 or emailed to Guy.Westmore@dpipwe.tas.gov.au


Useful links

Russian wheat aphid – How to recognise it (Plant Health Australia)

Russian wheat aphid FITE strategy

Contingency plan for Russian wheat aphid (Plant Health Australia)

Russian wheat aphid (Primary Industries and Regions South Australia)

Russian wheat aphid (Agriculture Victoria)

Russian wheat aphid (NSW Department of Primary Industries)

Biosecurity alert: Russian wheat aphid (Department of Agriculture and Food WA)

Industry alert – Russian wheat aphid found in South Australia (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)

Communique on Russian wheat aphid (National Management Group)

Map of distribution of Russian wheat aphid


Page updated 30 January 2017