Vegetable leafminer (Liriomyza sativae) incursion in the Cape York Peninsula

On 1 May 2015, routine surveillance detected two vegetable leafminer (Liriomyza sativae) larvae in the Cape York Peninsula community of Seisia. The leafminers were found in a backyard garden on Siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum) which is a widespread  plant, commonly used for pasture.

Hosts of this exotic pest include widespread weeds, cucurbits and one widespread native plant in the area. Vegetable leafminer are wind borne and eggs, larvae and pupae can be moved through plant material, soil, clothing and equipment.

The community of Seisia is located within an established quartine zone (Cape York Peninsula Pest Targeted Quarantine Area) where no plant materials can be moved out of the area without approval.

The Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP) has met in response to these recent detections. The committee, incorporatating representatives from Government Plant Health Australia and Industry,  has established a separate group that is working with industry to:

– develop delimiting surveillance and plant destruction protocols

– investigate and document control options, including the use of insecticides, and seek the necessary permits from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and raise public and industry awareness of the pest.

Growers are encouraged to adopt good biosecurity practices to prevent pest and disease incursions, and should also regularly check crops for signs of disease and pest activity.

If you suspect a vegetable leafminer infestation, report it to the department of primary industries or agriculture in your state or territory. You can do this by phoning the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.