Grains pests

Grains Farm Biosecurity ProgramThe following are some key high priority exotic pest threats for the Australian grains industry as identified through the development of the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Grains Industry. Any of these pests would have serious consequences should they enter and become established in Australia.

The list includes information about high priority pests of the grains industry in Western Australia.

Implementing biosecurity measures to control endemic pests will go a long way towards preventing exotic pests from entering and becoming established on your farm.

Include exotic pests when undertaking routine pest surveillance activities. Ensure that all surveillance activities, for both endemic and exotic pests, are recorded.

Highest priority exotic pests of the Australian grains industry

Karnal bunt

Photo by PaDIL

Karnal bunt (Tilletia indica)

  • Hosts are wheat, durum and triticale
  • Parts of seeds are blackened and crush relatively easily
  • Infected grain has a distinct fishy smell
  • If it became established in Australia, access to over 45 international markets would be restricted and grain price would be significantly reduced

Fact sheet

Khapra beetle

Photo by Ministry of Agriculture and regional Development Archive, Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development, Hungary,

Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium)

  • Adults are small (2-3 mm long) and do not fly
  • Spread in infested grain
  • Larvae are hairy and can survive for over a year without food
  • Phosphine fumigation gives poor control
  • If established, it would affect market access

Fact sheet

Hessian fly

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

Hessian fly and Barley stem gall midge (Mayetiola destructor and M. hordei)

  • Adults are small (2-4 mm long) and look like mosquitos
  • Pupae have a ‘flaxseed’ appearance
  • Attack leaves, stems and heads of cereals
  • Most chemical controls are not effective
  • Cereal crop losses up to 40% could occur

Fact sheet

Sunn pest

Photo by ICARDA

Sunn pest (Eurygaster integriceps)

  • Brown bug with wide oval-shaped body (12 mm long) with a wide triangular head
  • Attacks most cereal crops
  • Colonies can be seen on cereal heads in spring
  • Injects enzymes into the plant as it feeds which can result in grain damage and abortion

Fact sheet

Barley stripe rust

Photo by PaDIL

Barley stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis f. sp. hordei)

  • Would infect barley in all Australian growing regions
  • Approximately 80% of Australia’s barley varieties would be susceptible
  • Yellow stripes of fungal spores produced between veins of leaves
  • Can be spread by wind and rain, or on clothing, machinery and tools
  • Any stripe rust on barley should be reported

Fact sheet

Ug99 Wheat stem rust

Photo by University of Georgia Plant Pathology Archive,

Wheat stem rust, pathotype Ug99 (Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici)

  • Pathotype identified in Uganda in 1999 that has overcome several stem rust resistance genes
  • Many Australian wheat varieties will be susceptible
  • Elliptical blisters produced on stems, which break open to reveal a mass of rust coloured spores
  • Stem rust on known resistant varieties should be reported

Fact sheet

Soybean cyst nematode

Photo by CR Grau, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines)

  • Considered most damaging pathogen of soybean worldwide.
  • Affects the roots, resulting in patchy growth, poor tillering and stunting of plants.
  • Spreads rapidly. Female nematodes contain eggs that remain viable for up to 10 years without a host.

Fact sheet

Additional high priority pests for Western Australia

The following pests are established in other parts of Australia, but not present in Western Australia.

Stem nematode

Photo by S Taylor

Stem nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci)

  • Not present in WA
  • Oat race hosts are oat, faba bean, and wild oat. Also recorded on field pea, canola, lentil and chickpea seedlings
  • Symptoms include poor emergence and establishment, stunting and distortion of plants, swollen stem bases, premature plant death, lodging, fewer seed heads
  • Spread by infested hay, straw and other plant material, in soil by movement of machinery and as a contaminant of seed

Fact sheet

Lentil anthracnose

Photo by K Lindbeck, NSW I&I

Lentil anthracnose (Colletotrichum truncatum)

  • The lentil strain of this pathogen has not been recorded in WA
  • Symptoms include white to greyish lesions on stems, branches and petioles
  • Lesions may contain small black fruiting bodies and turn brown as plants mature
  • Low rate of seed transmission
  • Spread by movement in lentil trash and infected dust from harvesting lentils

Fact sheet

Sorghum midge

Photo by Alton N Sparks Jr, University of Georgia,

Sorghum midge (Stenodiplosis sorghicola)

  • Recorded in eastern Australia and Northern Territory but not WA
  • Occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas
  • Attacks grain and forage sorghum, Johnson and Columbus grasses
  • Transport of grain containing larvae into WA is restricted


Lima bean pod borer

Photo by Gyorgy Csoka, Hungary Forest Research Institute,

Lima bean pod borer (Etielia zinckenella)

  • Has been found in Queensland where it attacks legume crops
  • A threat to lupin and pulse crops in WA
  • Yield losses due to infestation can be high
  • Damaged seed is down-graded and cannot be used for seed
  • Once inside legume pods, control is very difficult


 Rose grain aphid Rose – grain aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum)

  • A common aphid in cereals in south-eastern states of Australia
  • Large green aphids that may have a dark green stripe down the middle of the back
  • Tend to colonise leaves higher on the plant
  • Feeding damage can occur on stem, leaves and heads in tillering and later stages of crop growth
  • Can spread barley yellow dwarf virus