Top Biosecurity Outbreaks in Australia

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In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of exotic pests in Australia, and this has impacted on the horticulture sector negatively. Some of the latest biosecurity outbreaks have had devastating effects on the industry. But which are the most recent biosecurity outbreaks? Well, below are the major outbreaks so far:

Australian Exotic Pests

Tomato Potato Psyllid

Tomato Potato Psyllid

This is one of the major outbreaks that have caused a panic in the agricultural sector. It was first discovered in a suburban garden in Perth in February 2017. TPP attacks a variety of vegetable crops in the potato family such as tomatoes, sweet potato, chilli, tamarillo, capsicum, and eggplant.  It has also been realized that this pest can also carry the zebra cheap disease. This is a serious threat to the potato industry in Australia, but the responsible authorities are doing their best to eradicate it.

Chestnut Blight

Chestnut BlightChestnut blight was discovered in September 2010 near Eurobin in the Ovens Valley in Victoria’s north east. The pest was also reported to have been found again in other properties in the valley in 2014. This is a dreadful plant disease caused by a fungus that’s already causing problems throughout Europe, North America, and North Asia. It’s relatively new in Australia and has remarkably affected the Victorian chestnut industry costing around $8 million per year, according to Agriculture Victoria.

Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus

This pest was first detected in Katherine and Darwin in the Northern Territory on September 2014 on a watermelon farm. The pest affects not only melon industries but also the growers of zucchinis, cucumber, squash, and pumpkin. Quarantine measures were conducted, but another attack was reported on a single property at Charter Tower in April 2015.  The Northern territory cancelled the quarantine in February 2016, but again the disease was found last year in Western Australia, Perth, Kimberley, Carnarvon and Gerald ton. According to experts, the virus can remain passive in soil and also continue in some weed. It’s carried through contaminated, infected seed stock, machinery, and equipment.

Banana Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4)

Banana Panama Disease Tropical Race 4Panama TR4 was detected on a property at Tully in far north Queensland in March 2015. This was devastating news to the $400 million banana industry. Before that, the pathogen had wiped out the banana industry in Northern Territory in the 1990s.  It’s spread through polluted plant and soil and cannot be eradicated. It is estimated that the eradication of this pest would currently cost $26 million. This is according to estimations made by Plant Biosecurity CRC.

Myrtle Rust

Myrtle rust is a plant fungal disease first discovered in Wyong, NSW in April 2010. Since then, it has been spreading across the Eastern Australian landscape and is found in home gardens, parks, street planting, bush land reserves and commercial operations. According to NSW department of primary industries, the disease could now be found in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and on Tiwi Island in Northern Territory. It has been announced endemic and cannot be eliminated. Myrtle rust emerged in South America and spread through yellow spores, which can be scattered by the wind, humans, and animals

Fire Ants

Red Fire AntsThese ants arrived in Australia via a port in Brisbane in 2001 and again arrived in 2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014. They have an extremely irritating sting which has resulted in 85 deaths in the United States. This has caused a panic in the country with some of the citizens suffering from anaphylactic shock. Its feared that the fire ants might thrive anywhere in Australia and end up threatening farming and recreation. 

Varroa Mite and the Asian Honeybee

So far, there has not been a report of any destructive varroa mite in Australia, but it’s believed it’s only a matter of time.  According to industry, this will risk pollination and honey production with a value of more than $1billion. But the Asian honeybee, which can carry varroa destructors, was first discovered in Cairn in 2007. The authorities have announced it endemic and cannot be destroyed.

Russian Wheat AphidRussian Wheat Aphids

This pest was first detected in South Australia in May 2016. According to researchers, the pest is likely to affect 75 per cent of grain crops. Plan Health Australia is starting a national management plan for the pest. This contains a range of elements such as training to promote early detection, quick control option, and best practice management.

Yellow Crazy Ant

This ant was introduced by chance to Northern Australia and Christmas Island at the beginning of the 1990s. Yellow crazy ant had a remarkable destructive impact on Christmas Island’s ecosystem where it killed and displaced red crabs on the forest floor.

Reference:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-02-20/biosecurity-outbreaks-in-australia-a-short-history/8280634

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