A new biocontrol agent, Tamarixia, has been released to combat Tomato/Potato Psyllid.
Tomato potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli Hemiptera: Triozidae, nymph with wing buds and white ‘psyllid sugars’, the wax coated excess sap excreted by the insects. © Plant & Food Research
Psyllids are very small insects of about 3mm in length, which suck sap from their favourite host plants, potatoes and tomatoes. They transfer a bacterial disease called Liberibacter, which shows in infected plants as yellowing or distorted leaves and can cause plant death. Potatoes harvested from diseased plants will have a symptom called zebra chip, which means that the flesh has discoloured stripes and it cooks unevenly.
Biocontrol is a method of controlling pests such as insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases using other organisms. In this case, Tamarixia is a small, 100% safe parasitic wasp that cannot sting. Tamarixia lays its eggs on the surface of psyllid nymphs (young psyllids). Once hatched, the eggs develop into larvae that feed on the psyllid nymphs, eventually killing them. Gardeners can buy the biocontrol agent and establish a viable population of the parasitic wasp around their garden to help control this troublesome pest. It can be bought from Bioforce Ltd