By Growcom CEO, Stephen Barnard

The horticulture industry has most recently been absorbing the news of the arrival in Australia of the serpentine leafminer.

First confirmed as present in Western Sydney in early November, it has since been detected in South East Queensland.   

Serpentine leafminer poses a significant economic threat to Australia’s horticulture and nursery production plant industries. Damage is primarily caused by larvae feeding under the surface of leaves.

It has a wide host range of plant species which includes broccoli, beet, spinach, peas, beans, potatoes and cut flowers. The pest can fly, and eggs, larvae and pupae can be spread through the movement of plant material, soil, clothing, and equipment.

In terms of pests posing a big problem to industry, the entry of serpentine leafminer follows in relatively quick succession the arrival of Fall armyworm.  

A prodigious flyer, since being found in Cape York this January the Fall armyworm has made its way over to West Australia and down the length of Queensland into New South Wales.

While Fall armyworm has a long list of known hosts, to date it has caused most significant damage to sweetcorn crops.

A number of initiatives by a range of government agencies are already underway to help the horticulture industry prepare for managing the ongoing impacts of Fall armyworm. Though all this activity and the information that flows from it is not always immediately obvious to growers.

That is why Growcom will be hosting a free online webinar for all comers this coming Wednesday 9 December where a range of technical experts will provide an overview of current Fall armyworm R&D projects, their findings, as well as other projects in the pipeline.

The webinar will also include a discussion on how best to fill gaps in Fall Armyworm R&D gaps for horticulture. Register your interest in the webinar here:

Growcom will also this Friday 4 December be hosting an online briefing from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on the status of the serpentine leafminer infestation. Details on the briefing are available here:

If you suspect the presence of serpentine leafminer, Fall armyworm, or any other unusual plant pest or disease, report it immediately to the Queensland Department of Agriculture or through the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline (1800 084 881).