Chickpea – southern region

Insect pest risk

High risk

Moderate risk

Low risk

Native budworm
  • Wet winters in breeding areas of central Australia + suitable weather conditions that bring moths from west to east result in spring migrations.
  • Repeated influxes of moths over long periods, resulting in need for continuous monitoring.
  • Broadleaf weeds hosting cutworm and helicoverpa that then move into the crop as large, damaging larvae.
  • Hot weather in spring (can cause small larvae to burrow into pods).
  • Wet harvest weather (pods are ‘softer’ for longer and susceptible to damage right up to harvest).
Dry winters in breeding areas (low population source and absence of frontal wind systems that provide opportunities for migration).
Infestation by virus-vectoring aphids in early seedling stages. Retained cereal stubble helps to restrict aphid colonisation in wide row crops
Minor pests
If paddock comes out of pasture (higher risk of soil insects).

Pest incidence

Chickpea has only one major pest, the native budworm caterpillar Helicoverpa punctigera.  Caterpillars do most damage at pod set through to maturity, and can reduce both grain yield and quality.

Pest Crop stage






RLEM Damaging Present Present
Lucerne flea Damaging
Cutworms Damaging
Aphids Damaging Present Present
Thrips Present Present Present
Native budworm Present Present Damaging Damaging


Present Present in crop but gen­er­ally not dam­ag­ing
Dam­ag­ing Crop sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age and loss

Insects other than native budworm are rarely a problem in chickpeas post-establishment. Chickpeas secrete an organic acid (malic acid) from hairs on their leaves, stems and pods, making the crop unattractive to insects.

Seedlings are most vulnerable to damage:

  • before they develop 3-4 ‘true’ leaves
  • during periods of moisture stress
  • when other factors (such as low soil temperature or soil compaction) limit plant growth.

Key IPM strategies for chickpeas

  • Tolerate low-moderate early damage. Chickpeas can compensate for early damage by setting new buds and pods, however excessive early damage can reduce yields and delay harvest.
  • Mortality of small larvae can be high. Refer to records from successive checks to help interpret check data and make decisions about the need for, and timing of, control.
  • Aim for one well-timed spray: chickpea can tolerate moderate to high numbers of native budworm larvae (10-20 larvae/m2) through late vegetative and early flowering stages.
  • Yield loss is sustained from damage at pod fill – the most critical stage for protecting the crop. Post treatment checks are critical to determine efficacy and possible reinfestation prior to harvest.

Fur­ther information

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