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An exotic plant pest which feeds on tomato, potato, capsicum, chilli as well as sweet potato plants has been found in the Perth Hills. Picture: DAFWA

Tomato potato pest found in Perth Hills

THE insect pest tomato potato psyllid has been found in the Perth Hills with the number of detections in WA increasing to 43 including 20 commercial properties.

Between Wednesday, March 1 and Saturday, March 4 the Department of Agriculture and Food WA said it had confirmed 12 new detections of the pest.

Three of the new detections are in regional areas, including Gingin, Busselton and Yarloop.

The detections were made in commercial capsicum, eggplant and potato crops.

A quarantine area notice is in effect for the Perth metropolitan area to limit the spread of tomato potato psyllid.

At present the quarantine area extends to include Wanneroo in the north, Serpentine Jarrahdale in the south and Mundaring in the east.

The department said the quarantine area boundaries may be extended based on the department’s surveillance results.

The exotic plant pest which feeds on tomato, potato, capsicum, chilli as well as sweet potato, leads to a loss of plant vigour and yield.

The weeds nightshade, groundcherry, matrimony vine and field bindweed are also hosts of the pest.

The psyllid is a tiny sap-sucking insect with three stages of development – egg, nymph and adult.

Adults and nymphs cause injury to plants with their sucking mouth parts when feeding.

Where the tomato potato psyllid is detected on a commercial property, a pest control notice is issued to the property owner or occupier which provides direction to control the pest.

Property owners are not able to move host material from the property without approval from the department.

The department said it was working with individual property owners on a treatment and inspection process which are appropriate to their business and to minimise the impact of these restrictions on individual businesses.

The pest control notice imposes certain restrictions on the movement of commercially-grown vegetables and nursery stock, and other materials that could spread tomato potato psyllid, produced in the quarantine area.

Last week the department’s chief plant biosecurity officer John van Schagen said the department was tracing the recent movement of seedlings as a priority.

More information, including how to look for and report the pest, and more detail on the quarantine area notice, is available on the department website at www.agric.wa.gov.au/tpp

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. The best part of her job was meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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