Keep an eye out for spittlebugs in your orchard
Xylella fastidiosa, a deadly bacterial pathogen, is having a devasting impact across horticultural industries in Europe and the USA.
This disease can infect many different plants and while the full scale of potential damage to kiwifruit in New Zealand (if it got here) remains somewhat unknown, for many crops it will be devastating.
While kiwifruit is currently not considered a host, there is still much uncertainty, including whether we already have a vector in New Zealand capable of spreading this pathogen between kiwifruit orchards if it were to arrive. KVH is taking a proactive approach and is engaged in readiness efforts so that we are playing our part to reduce the likelihood and potential impacts of an incursion in New Zealand. Read more about this work here.
How might Xylella fastidiosa spread? There are a number of potential vectors of Xylella around the world, but the only known vector already present in New Zealand are spittlebugs. We’re unsure of their presence in our orchards and one of the ways we are looking to understand this better is to ask growers to keep an eye out and let us know if they spot anything that looks like one. This will help build our knowledge and complement research being undertaken by Better Border Biosecurity (B3) into the distribution of this insect in New Zealand.
Spittlebug adults – on the left in the below image - are small and reach a body length of 5–7mm. They are usually yellow/brown to dark brown, with dark spots, stripes, or bands on their back.
Nymphs – on the right in the below image – are about 1-2mm and hard to see but are easier to identify because of their self-generated foam nests, which can be seen during spring.
If you see something that you think could be a spittlebug, we would like to know about it. Either use the Find-A-Pest reporting app on your phone to send through a report, or catch it (if you can), snap a picture of it, and report it us at KVH on 0800 665 825 or [email protected].
If you would like to know more about the work underway to better understand the potential impacts of an incursion to New Zealand, you can read a full review on our website here.
Adult spittlebug (left): image credit Even Dankowicz and nymph (right): image credit Helen Macky.