The exotic plant pest fall armyworm has been detected for the first time in Australia, in a network of surveillance traps on the northern Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Erub. Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O'Connell, said the caterpillar stage of the fall armyworm, also known as Spodoptera frugiperda, damages many crops across Africa and Asia vital to human food security, such as rice, maize and sorghum. "Everyone can do their part to protect Australia from biosecurity risks like fall armyworm by being aware of what can and cannot be brought to Australia from overseas or from the Torres Strait region and reporting any unexpected pests, plant matter or soil."
Adult moths of fall armyworm were detected in surveillance traps monitored by the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy. These traps were set up as part of preparedness activities for early detection as fall armyworm is a strong flyer and has been spreading rapidly through Southeast Asia countries in recent months. For more information, see Fall Armyworm and Other Exotic Armyworms from the Australian Department of Agriculture.