Australia Weather News

Landholders are urged to report locusts and populations to get them under control. - ABC

First mice and now plague locusts are rearing their heads in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales for the first time in years, thanks to recent rain.

The region has already seen a wave of adult locusts last month, and now their eggs are hatching and hungry.

Macintyre Independent Agronomists' Dave Kelly said nymphs had been sighted near Goondiwindi since the weekend.

"We've had to treat some late-planted sorghum, and some people have sprayed pastures they've planted in the last couple of months because they're very hungry and are taking the little seedlings right out.

"It's something we need to keep an eye out for. They are relatively easy to control, but it's just getting to them before they do the damage," he said.

Extended drought conditions have meant there had been little to no activity of plague locusts across eastern Australia for almost a decade.

"In 2009 and 2010 we had extensive locust populations through NSW and Victoria but not in Queensland," said Director of the Australian Plague Locust Commission, Chris Adriaansen.

"The last time we had any really decent population in Queensland was areas in south-west Queensland in 2008 and prior that was 2005 when we had some significant infestations across Queensland," he said.

Across the border, in north-western New South Wales biosecurity officers were urging farmers to monitor the presence of locusts.

Landholders have been asked to report any activity to Local Land Services (LLS) to help stop the destructive insects from spreading.

Coming weeks crucial for locust control

David Lindsay, a senior LLS biosecurity officer, based at Warialda, said he had seen banding locusts building in areas such as Mungindi, North Star, Yetman, Boggabilla, Croppa Creek and Moree.

He said the next few weeks would be critical for spraying to gain control of the pest.

"We are still in the timeframe at the moment, but it is starting to get towards the end of that," he said.

"The next week will be a crucial time.

"[Locusts] will start to disperse, and once that occurs, it gets a little bit too late. Once they start flying around it, is just impossible to spray them."

Mr Lindsay said it was critical landholders reported locusts and monitored populations to get them under control before they caused widespread damage to summer crops and early winter crops.

"If we do that, we will stop them from fledging and going through the next cycle and laying more eggs," he said.

Mice continue to be a problem

Mr Kelly said large populations of mice had been active in the region for months, with numerous baiting programs carried out by farmers.

"That's another headache we have had, especially some sorghum that has been planted into double-crop country.

"Mice were obviously active in the winter crop, and when the fresh seeds of sorghum went into the ground they busily went in there and ate it, so we've had to bait some of them as well," he said.