The highly destructive fall armyworm has continued its march south to Geraldton. A single adult moth was collected in a pheromone trap monitored by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. No larvae or feeding damage has been found to date, but the department is calling for farmers to be on the lookout for larvae on crops and for signs of unusual damage. First detected in Australia in January in traps at Torres Strait islands, the fall armyworm is a serious agricultural pest which can feed on a wide variety of crops and cause large economic loss. It has been detected in Kununurra, Broome and Carnarvon. The pest has also been found in the Northern Territory. Department officers are liaising with growers and agronomists in WA to provide support with trapping and advice on minimising the impact in horticultural and grains crops. DPIRD senior research scientist Helen Spafford said vegetable and grain growers in the area should be checking for larvae, monitoring unusual levels of damage, and reporting suspected fall armyworm to the department to help with surveillance and potential management options. “Accurately identifying fall armyworm will be important to determine the management options that can be used,” Dr Spafford said. “This can be challenging because many caterpillars already present in the area will look similar to fall armyworm. Young fall armyworm larvae are light coloured with a darker head. As they develop, the body darkens, becoming more brown with white lengthwise stripes. They also develop dark spots, the pattern of which is important, with spines. DPIRD research scientist Dusty Severtson said an extensive trapping program for fall armyworm was under way in the grainbelt. “Surveillance in the grainbelt has not detected this pest to date, but we are regularly monitoring traps in collaboration with local grower groups,” he said.