Looking for the Tomato Potato Psyllid in the NT

Brian Hennessy, Operations/Planning Coordinator, Darwin.

The Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) was found in Perth in February 2017, as reported in the March issue of Top Paddock. This pest affects plants in the Solanaceae and Convolvulaceae families, including potato, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli, sweet potato and tamarillo plants. TPP is also a known vector of Zebra Chip, which can cause significant impacts on plant production.

In response to the detection, a national surveillance campaign was undertaken. The Northern Territory surveillance covered the Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin regions. More than 30 commercial growers, nurseries and community gardens were contacted and asked to be part of the survey. Sticky traps were installed near host plants at selected properties where they remained for a week before being collected and sent to the Berrimah Farm Entomology Lab for analysis.

Sticky traps in place on farm.

Figure 4: Sticky traps in place on farm.

With the assistance of industry and community, the results from the sticky traps have confirmed no evidence of TPP in the Northern Territory.  Ongoing surveillance will continue to ensure that any incursion into the Territory it is detected early and potential impacts to market access are minimised.

Support from local growers by continuing to monitor plants and reporting any suspicious symptoms makes a critical difference in the early detection of exotic pests. The symptoms you should look for are:

  • damage to the underside of leaves
  • insects jumping from foliage when disturbed
  • severe wilting of plants caused by high numbers of psyllids feeding
  • yellowing of leaf margins and upward curling of leaves caused by the injection of salivary toxins
  • a sticky liquid called honeydew, which coats the plants, which can lead to sooty mould
  • stem death symptoms similar to other potato and tomato disorders.

Symptoms of Tomato potato psyllid infestation include yellowing of leaf margins and upward curling of the leaves. (Photo courtesy of the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development) Symptoms of Tomato potato psyllid infestation include yellowing of leaf margins and upward curling of the leaves. (Photo courtesy of the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)

Figure 5: Symptoms of Tomato potato psyllid infestation include yellowing of leaf margins and upward curling of the leaves. (Photo courtesy of the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)

Report any suspect plants or diseases to NT Quarantine on 1800 084 881 or via email quarantine@nt.gov.au. Visit the Farm Biosecurity website for more information.

Last updated: 02 October 2017