This is the first time the psyllid has been detected in Australia. It is present in the United States, Central America and New Zealand.
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.
- Adult psyllids resemble small winged cicadas in appearance, but are the size of an aphid, 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 rest roof-like over the body.
- Nymphs are up to 2mm long, oval shaped, flattened and scale-like in appearance. Young nymphs are yellowish green to orange with a pair of red eyes and three pairs of short legs. Older nymphs are greenish and fringed with hairs and have visible wing buds.
- Psyllid eggs are less than 1mm long and are attached to the plant by a short vertical stalk. They are usually laid on the lower surface of leaves or as a halo around the leaf edge. Eggs are white when first laid then turn yellow to orange after a few hours.
The tomato potato psyllid can carry the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which is associated with 'zebra chip' disease in potatoes.