Tomato potato psyllid detection in Western Australia - what it means for Tasmania (February 2017)
Tomato potato psyllid
(Bactericera cockerelli) was detected in Western Australia at several
properties near Perth, in early February 2017. This is
the first detection of this pest in Australia.
The pest has not been detected in Tasmania
Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) is a sap-sucking insect that feeds on many
plants in the Solanaceae family which includes potato, tomato, capsicum,
eggplant and tamarillo and some in the Convolvulaceae family such as sweet
The tomato potato psyllid causes injury to plants directly by its feeding. It can also transmit a bacterial disease known as zebra chip which poses an additional threat to important horticultural crops, particularly potatoes. Damage to crops is most severe when the insect vector and bacteria coincide. The bacterium has not been detected in Western Australia.
The noticeable signs of the tomato potato psyllid include insects jumping from the foliage when disturbed, severe wilting of plants occurs when there are large numbers of psyllids feeding, yellowing of leaf margins and upward curling of the leaves, and honeydew and psyllid sugar make the plants sticky and they often appear dirty.
Actions are being taken nationally in response to this detection and to
minimise the risk of movement of the pest to other parts of Australia.
Implications for Tasmania
If this pest entered Tasmania it would have greatest significance for growers
of potato, tomato, capsicum, eggplant and related crops both indoors and
outdoors. It also has implications for the nursery industry.
As part of a Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture project, a network of yellow
sticky traps has operated in Tasmanian potato crops in recent years to obtain
early warning should this pest enter Tasmania.
and backyard growers are asked to check their crops for signs of the psyllid.
Biosecurity Tasmania’s Plant Diagnostic Services can identify suspect material
free of charge. If you think the tomato potato psyllid may be present in your
crop or backyard plants, you need to report this to Biosecurity Tasmania by
phoning the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
Actions taken by Biosecurity Tasmania thus far
Importation pathways for risk produce from Western Australia have been
investigated by Biosecurity Tasmania. With some exceptions, Tasmania does not
receive risk produce directly from Western Australia, so reducing risk of movement
into Tasmania. Where produce may enter, it is via South Australia or
Victoria first and must meet those State’s emergency conditions thus buffering
the risk for Tasmania.
Tasmania has had treatment requirements on a range of risk material should any
pathway exist, hence mitigating risk. Additional requirements are not
deemed necessary at this time.
The Chief Plant Health Manager (Tasmania) has declared TPP a List A Pest under
the Plant Quarantine Act 1997, enabling regulatory action to be taken
if needed. He has also issued an Area Freedom certificate for TPP to
support continued access. for Tasmanian produce being exported
interstate. An industry information forum will be organised by
Biosecurity Tasmania in the near future as additional information comes to
As a general reminder, all growers need to practise sound farm biosecurity to
prevent the entry, establishment and spread of pests and diseases. Find out
more at the Farm Biosecurity website.
For further information and images of the pest - visit the Plant Health Australia website.