Comply with legislation before using insecticides to control mealy bugs

News release | 10-Dec-2018

Queensland graziers are being urged to comply with grazing withholding periods for any insecticides they may be applying within their enterprises.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Manager Supply Chain Sustainability Innovation Doug McNicholl said pesticide residue detections in meat posed a serious threat to the Australian livestock industries.

“Graziers should comply with agricultural chemical label instructions, including the appropriate withholding period,” Mr McNicholl said.

“Livestock grazing on insecticide-treated pasture may ingest insecticide residues remaining on or in the treated pasture and these residues can give rise to chemical residues in animal tissue that may present a trade risk.

“Pesticide residues found in food commodities in excess of approved maximum residue levels (MRLs) can represent a risk to consumers and to the reputation and trust in the Australian meat and livestock industries.

“If insecticide residues in excess of MRLs are detected during routine testing at abattoirs, processing plants or overseas markets, herds can be quarantined and producers fined.”

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Science Director, Beef and Sheep Bob Karfs said there were reports of producers using insecticides to treat mealy bugs on pasture affected by dieback, despite there being no conclusive evidence linking mealy bugs to pasture dieback.

“A range of activities are underway to determine the cause of pasture dieback and possible control options,” Mr Karfs said.

“Research supported by MLA into dieback in pastures in Queensland is indicating a mealy bug might be a potential cause or vector of the disease.

“However, work to ascertain conclusive findings about the definitive cause of pasture dieback is ongoing.”

Biosecurity Queensland General Manager Plant Biosecurity and Product Integrity Salvo Vitelli said that currently there were no agricultural chemicals registered for mealy bug control in pastures in Queensland and use of insecticides for this purpose is illegal.

“Spraying insecticides on pastures to control mealy bugs represents an added cost to graziers without any demonstrated benefit and could breach Queensland’s chemical use legislation,” Mr Vitelli said.

Graziers affected by pasture dieback can call the DAF customer call centre on 132 523 to report incidences of pasture dieback and talk to a departmental officer about their situation.

Further, graziers should report incidences of pasture dieback to MLA online at

For more information on activities being coordinated by MLA, contact Doug McNicholl
at or 0439275794, or Greg Palmer at or 0418 870 745.

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