Residents across the Perth metropolitan area can help combat the recently discovered pest, tomato potato psyllid (TPP), by hosting a ‘sticky trap’ in their backyard, and receive a free plant for their efforts.
TPP is a tiny insect which feeds on a range of plants, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, goji berries, capsicums, chillies, tamarillos and sweet potatoes.
The pest was found in Western Australia for the first time earlier this year, prompting a national biosecurity response.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development senior research officer Darryl Hardie said warmer weather was conducive to increased TPP activity, prompting surveillance efforts to ramp up.
“We are calling on the Perth community to support our surveillance efforts by ‘adopting-a-trap’ in their garden during spring,” Dr Hardie said.
“We are looking for home gardeners from across the Perth metropolitan area, as well Wanneroo, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Mundaring, Mandurah, Gingin, Chittering and Murray, who grow potatoes, capsicums, tomatoes or chillies in their gardens.
“If you don’t have these plants – that’s not a problem. With every sticky trap, residents will receive a chilli, capsicum or tomato seedling.
“This dedicated trapping program will build our knowledge about this insect and its presence in WA, to support our valuable horticulture industry in managing this new pest.
“Trapping will allow our scientists to test these insects to see if they carry a damaging plant bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum.”
The bacteria is associated with TPP in other parts of the world, but has not been found to date in Australia.
Neither the psyllid nor the bacteria pose a risk to human health.
The ‘sticky trap’ is yellow, smaller than an A4 sheet of paper and mounted on a garden stake near plants.
It is coated in non-toxic glue so insects stick to it, and is covered with a bird-proof protective cage.