Fall armyworm

Medium larva and shot hole damage

Fall armyworm (FAW, Spodoptera frugiperda) is an exotic pest that was first detected on the Australian mainland in February 2020. Eradication has been determined to be unfeasible and it is now classified as an endemic pest. Reported to have a very wide potential host range, it hast so far shown a distinct preference for grass species with whorls, including sweet corn, maize and sorghum, where crop destruction can happen rapidly under high infestation levels.

Learn more about this pest:

NOTE: The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) have approved a DAF application and issued an Emergency Use Permit (EUP) which allows Fawligen to be used on FAW.
Fawligen is best used as part of an integrated pest management system, in strategic combinations with natural enemies and conventional chemistry options. Supply will be restricted to growers and consultants who have undertaken accredited training to ensure they are fully aware of the product’s abilities and limitations. AgBiTech will be providing a training program for farmers, agronomists and researchers who are considering using Fawligen. More information on this product and the accreditation program is available at www.agbitech.com.au/fawligen.

The Beatsheet sends out updates on this pest as information becomes available. Type FAW into the search box to find FAW-related information on this site, including our blog posts.

Webinars and recent presentations

See also our presentations page for more information and links to earlier recordings.

Other resources

A short video on FAW in sugarcane from Burdekin Productivity Services (opens in Facebook).

The GRDC has a Fall armyworm: a crop invader on the march page with identification information and links to other resources.

Enquiries or images regarding FAW in NSW can be emailed to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. See also NSW DPI’s fall armyworm webpage.

The Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative has published a fall armyworm continuity plan and a  podcast series on FAW. It explores the experiences and observations of experts from around the globe and here in Australia. Visit the PHA website.

CropLife Australia has released a FAW resistance strategy.

A range of spray permits for fall armyworm are now available. Search for permits relevant to your crop/situation at the APVMA website.  Download a summary page in pdf (current as at 15 December 2021).

The DARABUG insect development model provides a convenient and readily available means of predicting development times using different insect models, including FAW. Gridded climatic data of daily temperatures is used to generate estimates of the dates of occurrence for each stage throughout the whole life-cycle of an insect. The science behind the modelling is described in Regional and seasonal activity predictions for fall armyworm in Australia (Insect Science volume 1).

DPIRD (Western Australia) has released a Fall armyworm surveillance manual with instructions for using pheromone traps.

CottonInfo has a short video highlighting some of the similar characteristics between caterpillars and an Endemics to exotics factsheet that looks at some of the differences between armyworm species found in the tropics.

Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has several pages on FAW on the Business Queensland website.