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

  • Insectivorous birds and mammals, predator insects, parasites and diseases.

Control

  • Readily controlled with insecticides if treated at right time.
  • Different insecticides can be used to control each locust species.
  • Residues of some insecticides have negative effects on trade in agricultural products.
  • Only insecticides registered or approved for use to control the yellow-winged locust by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority can be used in Queensland's cropping or livestock producing areas.
  • 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 2 or more states.
  • Appropriate application methods for the insecticides used to control yellow-winged locust vary with the locusts' life stage and behaviour.

Insecticide 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 insecticides, 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 insecticides is only efficient control method.
  • The aerial application of agricultural insecticides is a regulated activity under the Agricultural Chemical Distribution Control Act 1966.
  • Aerial spraying should be undertaken by a licensed aerial distribution contractor. Pilots in command of aircrafts must hold a 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 animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken for yellow-winged locust. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information