Yellow-winged locust

The only species in its genus found in Australia, the yellow-winged locust is a flying insect with bright yellow wings. It looks similar to the migratory locust, but smaller. The yellow-winged locust makes a distinctive clicking noise when flying.

Yellow-winged locusts occur in all of Australia’s mainland states. They damage crops from Cape York to the Lockyer Valley in Queensland.

The yellow-winged locust is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Gastrimargus musicus

Description

  • Insect with bright yellow wings, 35-50mm long when mature.
  • Makes distinctive clicking noise when flying.
  • Hind wings are bright yellow with black band along edge.
  • Body colour varies from green to brown in normal conditions to straw-coloured when swarming.

Habitat

  • Found in pasture and cropping areas.

Distribution

Life cycle

  • Dense egg beds are laid in bare, compact soil.
  • Eggs hatch after 17 days, producing nymphs.
  • Nymphs take 40-50 days to become immature adults
  • Immature adults take further 12-14 days to mature and lay eggs.
  • Populations are highest spring-autumn.
  • At high population densities, nymph bands and adult swarms can form.
  • Adult swarms are infrequent, localised and spread slowly.

Crops affected

  • Pastures, forage crops.

Impacts

Economic

  • Damages crops from areas in Cape York to Lockyer Valley in Queensland.

Natural enemies

  • Birds, mammals, insects.

Control measures

  • Readily controlled with insecticides if treated at right time.
  • Different chemicals are used to control each locust species.
  • Only insecticides registered or approved for use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority are recommended for use.
  • Control of yellow-winged locust is landholder’s responsibility.
  • Biosecurity Queensland is responsible for recommending and coordinating control strategies in Queensland. The Australian Plague Locust Commission implements control measures when locusts reach sufficient numbers to present a threat to two or more states
  • Appropriate application methods for chemicals to control yellow-winged locust vary with locusts’ life stage and behaviour.

Chemical control

Nymphs - ground spraying
  • Nymph bands can be sprayed with boom sprays. Isolated and small areas can be sprayed using misting machines or knapsack sprayers.
  • No licence is required to control locusts on your own property using insecticides from ground-spraying equipment.
  • When using agricultural chemicals, you must read and follow all product label instructions.
  • Factors influencing movement of nymph bands and effectiveness of control include nymph density, weather and cover.
  • Nymphs at densities below 30 insects per m2 move very little and don't form bands.
  • Spraying in late afternoon is most effective, as nymphs tend to spread out during day. Strong winds may cause nymphs to shelter in cracks in ground or behind windbreaks.
  • Dense, high pasture or crops should not be sprayed in still conditions, as wind turbulence is needed for spray to penetrate foliage.
  • Nymphs die after contact with, or ingestion of, treated vegetation within 2-48 hours after spraying. Follow-up treatments may be necessary for up to 2 weeks after spraying, as several waves of bands will hatch from 1 egg bed.
Fledged and flying locusts - aerial spraying
  • Once locusts have fledged or are flying, aerial spraying of agricultural chemicals is only efficient control method.
  • Aerial spraying should be undertaken by licensed aerial distribution contractor. Pilot in command of aircraft must hold current pilot chemical rating licence.

Legal requirements

  • The yellow-winged locust is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information