Tomato potato psyllid
Tomato potato psyllid (TPP) Bactericera cockerelli is a tiny sap-sucking, winged insect that feeds on feeds on tomato, potato, capsicum, chilli, goji berry, tamarillo, eggplant and sweet potato.
It is a significant pest that causes production losses and can spread a serious plant disease known as 'zebra chip' in potato, caused by the Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso) bacterium.
TPP was first detected in Western Australia in February 2017. The origin is unknown. There have been no confirmed reports of TPP in Victoria. CLso has not been detected in Australia.
Identifying tomato potato psyllid
The psyllid is a tiny sap-sucking insect that go through three stages of development – egg, nymph and adult.
- Adult TPP resemble small winged cicadas and are about 3mm long. The body is brownish and has white or yellowish markings on the thorax and a broad white band on the abdomen. Wings are transparent and held vertically over the body.
- Nymphs are up to 2mm long, oval shaped, flattened and scale-like in appearance.
- Psyllid eggs are less than 1mm long and are white when first laid, then turn yellow to orange after a few hours.
The psyllid can spread through the movement of plants and plant materials including fruit, vegetables and nursery stock, on horticultural machinery and equipment, and also by wind and flight.
TPP adult (image courtesy of Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia)
TPP adult size (image courtesy of Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia)
TPP nymphs (image courtesy of Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia)
Psyllid sugars (image courtesy of Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia)
How commercial growers and residents can help
Commercial and residential growers of host crops are advised to regularly check their crops for signs of TPP, which can be found on the underside of leaves.
When present in a crop, noticeable signs TPP include:
- insects jumping from the foliage when disturbed
- severe wilting of plants caused by high numbers of psyllids feeding
- yellowing of leaf margins and upward curling of the leaves
- white sugar-like granules (excreted by adults and nymphs), which coats the plant leaves and stems, and can lead to the development of sooty mould
- ants may be symptomatic of the presence of the white sugar-like granules
- stem death symptoms are similar to other potato and tomato disorders.
Check out the video, Tomato potato psyllid: How to check my veggie patch, which is available from the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia website.
If you suspect you have found tomato potato psyllid on your plants or crops, please report this to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 or email a photo and the psyllid's location to firstname.lastname@example.org
Growers are reminded that it is an offence under the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010 not to report a suspect case of tomato potato psyllid or bacterium.
Restrictions on bringing host material into Victoria
To minimise the risk of tomato potato psyllid entering Victoria, restrictions apply to movement of host material (e.g. host plants, vegetables and fruits) sourced from any state or territory unless it meets market access requirements.