Industry alert - Tomato potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli)

Tomato potato psyllid - nymph cases nymph and adult

Tomato potato psyllid - adult (3mm), nymph and nymph cases

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has issued a new Movement Control Order Notice (PDF, 12.8MB) – Tomato-Potato Psyllid and Carriers – that was signed on and commenced on 2 November 2017, when it was published on the department's website. It will stay in effect for three months unless revoked earlier.

This Movement Control Order (PDF, 12.8MB) replaces the Movement Control Order that was signed on 4 August 2017 and was made on 11 August 2017.

Tomato-potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) was detected in Western Australia in February 2017.

Tomato-potato psyllid affects horticultural crops and is also capable of transmitting the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which causes the devastating plant disease known as zebra chip in potatoes. To date, the strain of Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum that causes zebra chip has not been detected in Australia.

The tomato-potato psyllid can also be spread as a hitchhiker on non-host plants and plant material, including fruit, vegetables, nursery stock and cut flowers, and on machinery and equipment used in the production of horticultural crops.

As a result, movement restrictions will apply to solanaceous and convolvulaceous plants or plant material and associated media, machinery or equipment, as well as non-host plants and plant material (fruit, vegetables, nursery stock and cut flowers) coming into Queensland unless they meet certain conditions outlined in the Movement Control Order (PDF, 12.8MB).

Other Australian states and territories have also implemented movement restrictions for tomato potato psyllid.

DAF is continuing surveillance of crops from the Solanaceae (potato, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli) and Convolvulaceae (sweet potato) plant families to confirm the Queensland’s continued freedom from tomato potato psyllid and Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum.

Queensland has issued state-wide area freedom certificates for tomato potato psyllid (PDF, 376.7KB) and Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (PDF, 391.2KB) to enable trade in restricted carriers of the two pests from Queensland.

However, businesses are reminded to check the quarantine requirements for the entry of plants or plant material and associated media, machinery or equipment prior to export.

The tomato potato psyllid is a sap-sucking insect that extracts plant juices from the leaves and stems of plants. The excess sugar that is excreted is referred to as ‘psyllid sugar’ or ‘honeydew’ and is characteristic of the pest. The adult insects may jump from affected plants when the foliage is disturbed.

The adult tomato potato psyllid is a small, winged insect about three millimetres long that resembles a miniature cicada. Their life cycle includes nymph and egg stages, all of which may be present on affected plants.

Biosecurity Queensland reminds landholders to continue maintaining good biosecurity practices on their properties to prevent the introduction of tomato potato psyllid or the bacterium to Queensland farms.

If you suspect tomato potato psyllid or Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum on your property, report it immediately to the Exotic Pest Plant Hotline on 1800 084 881 or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

For more information about how to identify tomato potato psyllid visit Plant Health Australia.

For more information about the tomato potato psyllid detection in Western Australia visit the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia website.

Last updated 02 November 2017