Residents across the Perth metropolitan area and outer surrounding shires are being recruited to take part in an intensive four-week spring offensive against the pest, tomato potato psyllid (TPP).
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is aiming to have 300 backyards hosting a ‘sticky trap’ throughout the spring surveillance campaign which runs from Saturday 28 September until Saturday 26 October.
TPP, a tiny insect which feeds on a range of plants, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, goji berries, capsicums, chillies, tamarillos and sweet potatoes, was first discovered in Western Australia in February 2017.
Since then, the department has recruited home gardeners to adopt a trap each season as part of its surveillance efforts.
Department chief plant biosecurity officer Sonya Broughton said warmer weather was conducive to increased TPP activity, prompting surveillance efforts to ramp up.
“We are calling on the Perth and surrounding communities to support our surveillance efforts by ‘adopting-a-trap’ in their garden during spring,” Dr Broughton said.
“We are looking for interested people across the Perth metropolitan area, and in particular the peri-urban areas of Wanneroo, Swan, Kalamunda, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Mundaring, Mandurah, Rockingham, Gingin, Chittering and Murray, to be involved.
“This season, we are also expanding trapping to Geraldton in line with trapping already occurring in Albany, Carnarvon and Kununurra.
“Every volunteer trapper will receive a free tomato plant.”
Dr Broughton said the dedicated trapping program would build the department’s knowledge about the insect and its presence in WA, to support our valuable horticulture industry in managing the pest.
“Trapping will allow our scientists to test these insects for a damaging plant bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), which has been associated with TPP in other parts of the world but has not been found in Australia,” she said.
Neither the psyllid nor the bacteria pose a risk to human health.
The ‘sticky trap’ is a small yellow card coated in non-toxic glue mounted within a protective cage on a garden stake near plants. The cage will protect pets and children from touching the sticky trap.
Anyone interested in adopting a trap should call the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on (08) 9368 3080.
Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937