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Completed project

Monitoring psyllids and psyllid predators in Australian potato crops (PT14001)

Key research provider: University of Tasmania
Publication date: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

What was it all about?

This project maintained a psyllid and psyllid predator trapping program across major production areas of eastern Australia for three consecutive cropping seasons - 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.

A network of yellow sticky traps was established in the major potato growing regions of eastern Australia to act as an early warning system to detect incursions of the exotic tomato potato psyllid (TPP).

More than 1,200 traps were placed in potato growing regions of Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland but the exotic pest was not detected. During the last year of the study, TPP was reported in the Perth metropolitan area. Fortunately, none of the WA psyllids were infected with the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum which causes Zebra chip – a devastating disease of potato and other solanaceous crops.

During the study, more than 6,400 native psyllids were trapped as well as almost 4,000 potential predators of TPP, known as beneficials. These were mainly brown lacewings, hoverflies and ladybirds. The numbers of both native psyllids and beneficials varied considerably between potato growing regions and time of year.

Nearly all psyllids caught were associated with nearby vegetation, particularly Eucalyptus species, and therefore are considered unlikely to feed on potato plants and transmit the Liberibacter if it was to enter Australia.

Following the WA detection of TPP, extra funding was allocated to employ a national psyllid co-ordinator as part of this project for three months beginning April 2017, until a new dedicated project for TPP surveillance was established (MT16016).

Also as part of the project, information on TPP and the damage it can cause was provided…

  • Workshops on psyllid identification and recognition of Liberibacter/Phytoplasma infestations in potato crops were held for potato growers and industry stakeholders
  • Information on how to report suspected exotic pests to encourage early reporting
  • Information on the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture website including a pictorial key for the identification of TPP using a 3-D model of the adult
  • A pocket monitoring guide for the identification of TPP was developed and displays of native psyllids and TPP were developed
  • A surveillance pack consisting of sticky traps and envelopes for posting traps back was made available
  • Liaison with industries also susceptible to TPP ensured that efforts to boost recognition and early detection were coordinated
  • Ongoing surveillance protocols for TPP were agreed.


Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

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