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DPIRD officers Thomas Windsor and Brad Scanlon look for tomato potato psyllid on a sticky trap collected as part of the spring surveillance campaign. Picture: DPIRD

Trapping allows testing for bacteria

HOME gardeners are reminded to check and control for the insect pest, tomato potato psyllid following a widespread trapping program in the eastern suburbs.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has commended residents who volunteered to place sticky traps in their gardens to support its surveillance efforts.

Department senior research officer Ian Wilkinson said of more than 1000 targeted sites involved, almost half had at least one psyllid trapped on their property, prompting a reminder for gardeners to be alert for the pest and control where required.

“Tomato potato psyllid is a tiny sap-sucking insect that affects a range of plants including potato, tomato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and tamarillo,” he said.

“We remind gardeners who grow these plants to look out for this pest and be aware of the control options available, which include a range of chemical or eco-friendly spray options.

“Gardeners should check their plants for insect eggs, nymphs and adults on the underside of leaves and look for signs of leaf damage, including yellowing or purpling of leaf margins or upward curling of leaves.

“Good control of insect pests such as tomato potato psyllid is important to minimise spread to other gardens and limit potential to spread to important horticultural production areas.”

Dr Wilkinson said the community had shown strong support for the program by offering to host surveillance traps on their properties, which were set and collected weekly by department officers during November.

“Trapping in areas with known populations of the tomato potato psyllid has allowed us to test the insects to see if they carry the damaging plant bacteria candidatus liberibacter solanacearum.

“More than 4000 psyllids have been tested for candidatus liberibacter solanacearum as part of this spring program and the bacteria has not been detected to date in WA.

“A further surveillance round will take place in autumn next year.

“Demonstration that the bacteria is not present in WA, through this surveillance program, will assist market access negotiations for host plants, including potatoes.”

Dr Wilkinson said participants in the survey had been advised whether the psyllid had been detected on their property and given management information.

More information on tomato potato psyllid and control options is available from the department website at agric.wa.gov.au/tpp

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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