FARMERS in the Wide Bay region are being urged to be on the look-out for the white-fringed weevil, which has damaged field pea crops in Bundaberg.
Although generally associated with warm moist conditions, the pest is now found in many cropping areas throughout Australia and appears to be increasing its range.
The symptoms observed in the Bundaberg crop included wilted plants, dead plants and gaps in the plant stand, according to Queensland Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry senior entomologist Mr Hugh Brier.
"Closer inspection of damaged plants revealed larvae had chewed through plant roots/stems just below or at ground level," he said.
Mr Brier said infestations often went unnoticed until after crops were planted and damaged, by which stage the weevil populations were difficult to eradicate.
"Crops are most susceptible to damage during the seedling/early vegetative stages as their roots are smaller relative to the size of the weevil larvae (12mm when fully grown), and plants are more likely to be killed," Mr Brier said.
Many pulse crops are susceptible to damage, especially peanuts (including the pods), chickpeas, soy beans and field peas, while lucerne, cotton and maize can also be affected.
More information on the white-fringed weevil and other insect pest management issues is available at www.thebeatsheet.com.au.