1. The identification of dispersal mechanisms which facilitate particular biological invasions is paramount for the successful management of invasive species. If the dispersal mechanism promotes high propagule pressure, the probability of successful establishment and spread is enhanced.
2. Invasive species may enter mainland Australia from Papua New Guinea via the Torres Strait islands, and their dispersal through the region may be assisted by wind. The island sugarcane planthopper Eumetopina flavipes is of particular concern to Australian quarantine authorities. Long-distance, wind-assisted immigration from Papua New Guinea may be responsible for the continued presence of E. flavipes in the Torres Strait islands and on the tip of mainland Australia. Simulation was used to predict E. flavipes wind-assisted migration potential from Papua New Guinea into the Torres Strait islands and mainland Australia. Field studies were used to test the predictions.
3. Wind-assisted immigration from Papua New Guinea was predicted to occur widely throughout the Torres Strait islands and the tip of mainland Australia, especially in the presence of tropical depressions and cyclones. Simulation showed potential for a definite, seasonal immigration which reflected variation in the onset, length and cessation of the summer monsoon.
4. In general, simulation predictions did not explain E. flavipes observed infestations. The discrepancy suggests that post-colonization processes such as the temporal and spatial availability of host may be equally or more important than possible wind-assisted immigration in determining population establishment, persistence and viability.
5. Despite the potential for wide-spread, annual immigration throughout the Torres Strait islands and the tip of mainland Australia, E. flavipes control may be possible by managing the cultivation of host plants on an ongoing annual basis to avoid recolonization, especially prior to or during critical immigration periods.
6. Synthesis and applications. Wind may promote significant incursions of E. flavipes from Papua New Guinea into northern Australia. Management strategies should consider the relative importance of both pre- and post-invasion processes in determining establishment success, so that response measures can be implemented at the appropriate stage of invasion. In this way, successful control may be enhanced, serving to reduce the overall cost of invasion.