New vegetable pest detected in Busselton

The destructive insect tomato potato psyllid, an exotic plant pest, compared to the size of a five cent piece. Photo supplied by DAFWA Entomology Pia Scanlon.
The destructive insect tomato potato psyllid, an exotic plant pest, compared to the size of a five cent piece. Photo supplied by DAFWA Entomology Pia Scanlon.

The Department of Agriculture and Food has confirmed the detection of tomato potato psyllid on three commercial horticulture properties in Busselton, Yarloop and Gingin.

This is the first detection of the destructive insect pest outside of the quarantine zone covering the Perth metropolitan area.

Extensive surveillance and property inspections by the department has revealed the psyllid on a total of 43 properties, including 20 commercial properties. All but three are in the metropolitan area.

Department chief plant biosecurity officer John van Schagen said restrictions were in place for all infested premises to control the movement of host plants, produce and any associated material, such as horticultural equipment.

“These new detections in regional areas are in commercial eggplant, potato and capsicum crops,” he said.

“We are moving quickly to carry out more targeted surveillance in these areas to determine the spread of the psyllid and will continue to work closely with the WA horticulture industry to minimise its impact.

“Department officers have inspected more than 300 properties, 190 in the regions and 127 in the metropolitan area, as we work to contain and control this pest.

“More than 1200 surveillance traps (‘sticky traps’) have also been installed on properties across regional and metropolitan areas.”

Tomato potato psyllid is an emergency plant pest, impacting Solanaceae plants including potato, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli and tamarillos. It also attacks sweet potato.

Mr van Schagen reminded regional growers, both commercial and backyard, to check their crops and report suspect finds to the department.

Reporting options are also available on the department website or by contacting the department’s pest and disease information service info@agric.wa.gov.au or call 1800 084 881.

More information, including how to look for and report the pest, and more detail on the Quarantine Area Notice.