Russian Wheat Aphid

​​​Report Russian wheat aphid detections to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

​​Where Russian wheat aphid has been found

Russian wheat aphid (RWA) was detected in South Australia in May 2016.  Since the initial detection in South Australia’s mid north region, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) has confirmed that a series of properties in the Mid North, Murraylands, eastern Mount Lofty Ranges and upper South East of the state are now infested with Russian wheat aphid.

In Victoria RWA was confirmed on samples from Horsham, Kaniva, Yaapeet and Nhill in the state’s west.

In August 2016 they were detected at Barham in the Murray Region of NSW. In January 2017 RWA was detected by Biosecurity Tasmania at Cressy, and months later at Prospect and Nile in the state’s north.

Managing Russian wheat aphid

The National Management Group (NMG) met on 8 June and agreed with recommendations provided by the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP), that RWA is not technically feasible to eradicate from Australia.

The CCEPP’s recommendations were based on science and the evidence available. The CCEPP determined that:

  • this aphid is widespread
  • it is carried easily and large distances by the wind, making it is impossible to contain
  • there are winged individuals (alates) which are capable of flying
  • there are native grasses that can host and provide a food source for these aphids
  • chemical controls are effective, but complete eradication of this pest requires removal of all individuals and this is not considered possible over such a large area.

The NMG’s decision does not mean that efforts will cease to help farmers prepare and respond to this aphid. A national management plan for Russian wheat aphid is being​ developed to manage the pest in Australia. The plan will include a range of elements such as immediate control options, training to promote early detections and best practice management, as well as research and development to provide longer term control options.

Plant Health Australia has initiated development of the plan and will work with Grain Producers Australia, state and territory governments and research bodies to deliver critical activities.

Biosecurity and reporting

Grain growers and agronomists across Australia need to be vigilant for unusual aphid activity in cereal crops. If you notice significant crop damage you need to report this to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. This will put you in touch with your state or territory’s department of agriculture or primary industries.

Information for agronomists

It is very important that agronomists and farmers practice good biosecurity, especially when moving from farm to farm or between different paddocks, so it is not spread inadvertently.

Agronomist and growers are advised not to drive vehicles through crops that may be affected. If this can’t be avoided, use a farm vehicle.

When leaving a crop, the vehicle should be washed down with a high pressure cleaner to remove soil and plant material before leaving the property or moving onto a different crop. The location of wash down site needs to be away from the crop but with adequate drainage to manage runoff. The vehicle should then be rinsed with 1 per cent chlorine bleach or farm degreaser.

Agronomists should wear disposable coveralls while in the crop, and change into new ones before moving between crops. Used coveralls should be bagged and sealed prior to disposal.

Footwear should be scrubbed free of soil and plant material and then disinfected in 1 per cent bleach solution. If you are wearing leather or cloth shoes these can be rinsed off in clean water after being treated with bleach. Alternatively you can spray your shoes with 80 per cent ethanol.

About Russian wheat aphid

Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia, is a significant exotic pest that attacks all cereal crops including wheat, barley, and oats.

Affected plants will show whitish, yellow and red leaf markings and rolling leaves. It injects toxins into the plant during feeding which retards growth and with heavy infestations, kills the plant.

Russian wheat aphid is approximately 2 mm long, pale yellowish green with a fine waxy coating.

Description below. 

Figure 1 Russian wheat aphids attacking plant material Photo courtesy of Frank Peairs, Colorado State University,

Description below. 

Figure 2 Russian wheat aphids attacking plant material Photo courtesy of Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University,

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Figure 3 A single Russian wheat aphid on plant material Photo courtesy of Frank Peairs, Colorado State University,

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Figure 4 Crop damage caused by Russian wheat aphid Photo courtesy of Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University,

Russian wheat aphid fact sheet (Plant Health Australia).

Further information

The links below provide state specific information about Russian wheat aphid.