Tomato potato psyllid

Tomato potato psyllid
Tomato potato psyllid often lay their yellow eggs on the leaf edge

Volunteer your garden to support insect research

Research was conducted in Darwin and Palmerston on tomato potato psyllid (TPP), with volunteers setting up insect traps in their gardens or on their balconies. This round has now closed and we thank the volunteers for participating.

You can read about the project and how it worked below.

The pest

TPP is one of the world’s most destructive horticultural pests. It is a tiny sap-sucking insect that feeds mainly on tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, capsicums and eggplants. The adults look similar to cicadas, but are only a fraction of the size, growing to about 3mm in length. Not only does TPP damage plants and crops by feeding on them, it can also carry a bacterium that causes serious plant diseases.

TPP has not been detected in the Northern Territory (NT) or other eastern states, but it is an established pest in Western Australia.

This nation-wide project is being led by the Western Australian Government to improve early detection of TPP in each state and territory. This targeted surveillance also helps to support NT fruit and vegetable growers by providing confidence that their produce is free of the pest. An incursion of TPP is likely to enter through a major port or produce market and establish in an urban area before spreading to regional areas. That’s why we’re focusing on home and community gardens in Darwin and Palmerston.

We are also interested in the pest Asian citrus psyllid which damages citrus and curry leaf trees. The traps used for TPP will also attract this pest, so if you have these plants in your garden let us know on the registration form.

By participating in this research, you will contribute data to a valuable national project. And of course receive a free tomato plant.

At the start of August, you’ll need to collect your free eggplant or tomato plant and ‘adopt a trap’ pack from Berrimah Farm (if you can’t pick it up, we’ll organise delivery). The kit will include sticky insect traps, pre-paid envelopes and instructions, to equip you to set up the trap in the host plant at home.

The program runs for four weeks. At the end of each trapping week, simply fill out a submission form, pop this and the used trap in a self-addressed envelope and put it in a post box. An entomologist at Berrimah Farm will then get to work identifying any insects stuck to the traps.

There are two trapping periods in 2021, in May and August.

We will also be looking for volunteers to help us again in 2022.

Interested? Please register at the link below, or contact the Plant Biosecurity team for more information.

For more information read the:

You don’t need to have a garden to be involved. A sunny spot outside, such as a balcony, where you can keep and care for a pot plant is all you need. We are also inviting schools, community gardens and nurseries to participate.

If you have any questions about the project, contact Plant Biosecurity on 08 8999 2203 or email

Download the information poster PDF (717.3 KB) to display at your school or community garden.

Last updated: 15 October 2021

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