Current locust situation

Locust situation 5 January 2020

This page summarises the known distribution of locusts during December 2019 and provides a brief outlook to April 2020. Regional information and forecasts are given in the latest locust bulletin.

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Australian Plague Locust (Chortoicetes terminifera)

The locust population level remains very low over its range in eastern Australia due to ongoing drought conditions and high temperatures. Only occasional adults were recorded on APLC surveys and no nymphs were observed during December. Remaining pasture vegetation in most regions is very dry. Surveys in December found no evidence of significant breeding in those parts of western Queensland and New South Wales that received heavy rainfall at the start of November.

Surveys in Central West Queensland in early December identified low density adult locusts in the Longreach–Blackall area and occasional adults in Southwest Queensland. There was no significant rainfall in inland Queensland during December and habitats in most regions are very dry. There was a limited vegetation response in those areas that received heavy rainfall (>40 mm) in early November, which became dry again during December.

Surveys in New South Wales during December identified very few locusts in the Central West, Far West or Far Southwest regions. Low density adult locusts were identified in the Bourke–Wilcannia area but no nymphs were detected in the Bourke district of the Far West region that received heavy rainfall in early November. There was no significant rainfall in inland regions during December and habitats are dry.

No surveys were warranted in South Australia during December. There was no significant rainfall in South Australia during December and grassland habitats in inland regions remain very dry.

No surveys were conducted in Victoria during December and grassland habitats in inland regions remain very dry.

The January–March outlook is for very low population densities to continue in inland eastern Australia. Ongoing drought and poor habitat conditions provide limited opportunities for successful locust breeding. There is insufficient time for more than one complete generation before autumn and multiple generations would be necessary for populations to increase to widespread high densities this season.  The Bureau of Meteorology seasonal outlook indicates that below average rainfall and above average temperatures are likely to continue over coming months. Habitats in most regions are therefore likely to remain unfavourable with only limited breeding possible.

There is a very low likelihood of high-density populations or infestations developing in any region during summer or March.

Spur–throated Locust (Austracris guttulosa)

The summer breeding population level remains very low. Surveys during 2018-19 indicate the current adult population is one of the lowest on record in the regions covered. Surveys during spring and December 2019 recorded only occasional low density adults in Queensland.

Surveys of the Central West and Southwest regions of Queensland during December recorded Isolated density adults in areas associated with residual green vegetation. No adults were recorded in New South Wales, Victoria or South Australia.

Localised heavy rainfall in parts of the Queensland Central Highlands and Central West at the start of November produced a short-lived vegetation response and some localised suitable breeding habitat. However, the very low background breeding population could produce only low density nymphs and there is likely to be high mortality without further significant rainfall.

There is a very low risk of a widespread infestation developing during summer or autumn 2020.

Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria)

This species was not recorded on any surveys during spring or December. Migratory locust habitats have become increasingly dry in the Queensland Central Highlands, South Central and Central West regions where it is commonly observed. Given the very low current adult population level, only limited breeding is likely during summer, even with average rainfall.

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

Locust forecasting regions

Map of forecasting regions

Map of forecasting regions with potential locust habitats shaded yellow

Last reviewed: 7 January 2020
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