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Lucerne flea

Farmer, David Cook, has reported lucerne flea attacking patches of irrigated lucerne and clover paddocks near Shepparton, in the Northern Country of Victoria. David says lucerne flea were a problem earlier in the season, however due to the high number of beneficial species (including snout mites) which were present at the time, David only sprayed in areas where lucerne flea numbers were high and causing severe damage. In some cases, lucerne flea numbers have remained low, however in one paddock numbers have reached damaging levels, particularly in those areas that were not sprayed earlier in the season. An agronomist also reports lucerne flea causing considerable damage to several wheat crops in parts of the Wimmera district of Victoria; which has experienced significant problems with lucerne flea in the last few seasons.

Lucerne fleas are up to 3mm long as adults and ‘spring’ off vegetation when disturbed. The pests work up the plants from ground level, eating tissue from the underside of the foliage. They leave distinctive feeding damage of ‘windows’ of transparent leaf membrane. Keep a good look out in paddocks, particularly in canola, lupins, lucerne and clover.

Crops are most likely to have problems where they follow a weed infested crop or a pasture in which lucerne flea has not been controlled. Consider implementing control in the season prior to sowing to minimise numbers. In crops, spot spraying is generally all that is required; do not blanket spray unless the infestation warrants it. If spraying is required, do not use synthetic pyrethroids.

Click here for images of the lucerne flea.

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