Entomology

Scientists at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Entomology Science Program are experts in insect:

  • taxonomy
  • ecology
  • molecular biology.

They apply their expertise to diagnostic services, integrated pest management (IPM) and biosecurity programs for cereal crops and other agricultural sectors including horticulture and forestry.

The group provides grain growers with regular PestFacts bulletins, a free service to producers in South Australia and western Victoria.

SARDI Entomology also leads the national Citrus Postharvest pest management program.

Our research supports market access and the maintenance of sustainable ecosystems by utilising:

  • natural ecosystem services
  • biological control
  • biotechnology
  • postharvest technologies
  • pesticide resistance management strategies
  • developing novel pest management technologies.

We apply molecular approaches to understand insect biology and provide novel surveillance tools for producers and biosecurity managers. Our long-term goal is to work with industry and the community to improve the productivity and sustainability of farm, forestry and urban landscapes.

This program provides information and management systems for:

  • biosecurity surveillance and response, including fruit fly and locusts
  • integrated pest management (IPM) of grain production
  • insecticide resistance testing and management
  • postharvest disease and pest disinfestation systems for horticultural market access
  • biosensor applications for pest and disease biosecurity
  • biological control of invertebrates and weeds.

Mr Greg Baker leads this program, which has 5 subprograms:

  • Fruit Fly
  • Snail and Slug Pests of Grain Crops
  • Grains Integrated Pest Management
  • Tools for Biosecurity Surveillance
  • Citrus Postharvest.

Subprograms and research focus

Fruit Fly

South Australia remains the only Australian mainland state that is fruit fly free.

We work with Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) biosecurity division to improve  monitoring and eradication efficacy of both Mediterranean and Queensland fruit fly within South Australia.

We  are major partner in the national SITplus program, which is developing improved tools for the monitoring and area-wide control of Queensland fruit fly, including:

  • developing female lures for monitoring and baiting
  • a more complete understanding of their behavior and new strains
  • improved rearing technologies for sterile release programs.

The current projects involve partnerships with:

  • CSIRO
  • Department of Primary Industries (DPI) NSW
  • Macquarie University
  • The University of Adelaide
  • Plant and Food Australia
  • industry partners.

Subprogram contact

Dr Peter Crisp
Phone: (08) 8303 9539
Email: peter.crisp@sa.gov.au

Snail and Slug Pests of Grain Crops

Pest snails and slug infestations in Australian grain crops cause major crop losses, harvest costs and market access threats.

Our research helps the grains industry increase profitability of their field chemical and cultural control program by providing them with:

  • improved baiting recommendations
  • exploring several novel controls
  • developing decision tools.

Snail and slug baiting guidelines fact sheet (PDF 494.6 KB)

Subprogram contacts

Dr Michael Nash
Phone: (08) 8303 9537
Email: michael.nash@sa.gov.au

Ms Helen DeGraaf
Phone: (08) 8303 9543
Email: helen.degraaf@sa.gov.au

Grains Integrated Pest Management

Diamondback Moth (DBM)

Our DBM research aims to provide better predictive management of this major canola pest.

Research focuses on better understanding of:

  • crop colonisation by the moths
  • the role of natural enemies
  • optimised use of selective insecticides
  • improved insecticide resistance management.

We are also investigating the biology of a close relative of DBM to determine its pest status in canola.

Mandalotus

Mandalotus weevils are emerging pests of established canola, pulse and cereal crops. There are currently limited effective controls.

Our research has:

  • identified a complex of at least 10 Mandalotus morpho-species that attack crops
  • defined their respective distributions and the general biology and phenology of one common species
  • evaluated a range of seed treatments and foliar insecticides for efficacy against the adult weevils.

Subprogram contacts

Mr Greg Baker
Phone: (08) 8303 9544
Email: greg.baker@sa.gov.au

Mr Kym Perry
Phone: (08) 8303 9370
Email: kym.perry@sa.gov.au

Tools for Biosecurity Surveillance

Our research into new diagnostics and surveillance sensors aims to provide industry with additional capabilities in early detection and accurate identification of plant pathogens. Our work particularly focuses on those with few morphological differences or poor molecular characterisation.

We investigate tools capable of distinguishing pathogenic spore species quickly and easily, without the need to send captured samples to a laboratory for testing.

Our current work is focused on the detection of spores from specific rust fungi of importance in the grain industry. We aim to produce recognition molecules which can be integrated into an assay platform adaptable to in-field spore traps for biosecurity surveillance.

Subprogram contact

Dr Kelly Hill
Phone: (08) 8303 9540
Email: kelly.hill3@sa.gov.au

Citrus Postharvest

This subprogram focuses on innovative technical and extension citrus activities which involve direct partnership with:

  • packers
  • exporters
  • other research agencies
  • commercial service providers.

We have expertise in:

  • quality control for exported fresh produce
  • evaluation of fungicides and monitoring for fungicide resistance
  • providing practical information to citrus packers through seminars and workshops.

For practical information on the latest postharvest handling procedures subscribe to the Citrus Packer newsletter.

Recent activities include:

  • Postharvest decay and disorder control – evaluation of citrus packing processes and products to control decay and storage disorders. We have expertise in:
    • quality control for exported fresh produce
    • evaluation of fungicides and monitoring for fungicide resistance
    • developing novel chemical free and reduced risk decay control technologies.
  • Sanitation/food safety – evaluation of sanitising products and their compatibility in the citrus packing process. This work includes packing line audits to comply sanitation for product quality and food safety considerations, including:
    • identifying points at risk
    • developing technical solutions.
  • Market access (pest) - develop and evaluate systems approaches to control surface pests of quarantine significance on horticultural commodities. Recent work includes:
    • collaborating with New Zealand Plant and Food to use high pressure washing and food grade oils to remove Fuller rose weevil eggs from citrus fruit.
  • Citrus postharvest extension. We provide practical information on the latest postharvest handling procedures for citrus through seminars, workshops and  the Citrus Packer newsletter.

Subprogram contacts

Dr Peter Taverner
Phone: +61 8 8303 9538
Email: peter.taverner@sa.gov.au

Ms Nancy Cunningham
Phone: (08) 8303 9538
Email: nancy.cunningham@sa.gov.au

Facilities

Our entomology facilities include:

  • a biological control quarantine insectary for the introduction of beneficial insects of importance to South Australian primary industries
  • a network of research stations for research on insects in horticulture, field crops, pastures and livestock
  • environmental control rooms and modern glasshouses for growing plants
  • pesticide testing equipment ranging from field scale to micro application
  • a bioassay laboratory for insecticide resistance screening and assessing pesticide effects on beneficial insects
  • a photographic collection of south Australian pests and beneficial insects (photographs are available for purchase).

Facilities contact

Mr Kevin Powis
Phone: (08) 8303 9672
Email: kevin.powis@sa.gov.au

Diagnostic services

The Entomology unit provides an invertebrate identification and advice service (PDF 59.2 KB).

SARDI Entomology contributes to the following government services:

  • PIRSA's biosecurity SA entomology
  • Fruit fly control
  • Locust control.

Program leader

Mr Greg Baker
Science Leader, Entomology
SARDI Sustainable Systems
GPO Box 397 Adelaide SA 5001

Phone: (08) 8303 9544
Email: greg.baker@sa.gov.au

Page Last Reviewed: 06 Feb 2015
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