The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in Victoria has confirmed Currant Lettuce Aphid (Nasonovia ribis - nigri) in Scoresby, Eltham and Templestowe, in outer eastern metropolitan Melbourne.
Lettuce aphid was first detected in Tasmania in late March 2004, and up until very recently was contained to the Island State.
DPI survey staff are visiting lettuce growing districts to determine the distribution of lettuce aphid. The aphid was detected in a lettuce crop and in flowering hawksbeard in parklands. The Department has informed local industry and is consulting with interstate quarantine authorities to determine whether they will be imposing any trade restriction as a result of this detection.
Lettuce aphids range in colour from green to yellow and have distinct dark band markings on their abdomen. They tend to feed and colonise on new leaves deep inside the plant making it very difficult to manage.
The aphids feed on lettuce seedlings and plants, chicory and weeds such as hawksbeard and nipplewort, however they are harmless to human health.
“The Lettuce Aphid is a new pest to mainland Australia but we are as ready as we could be,” AUSVEG Chairman, Michael Badcock, said.
AUSVEG has formed the Lettuce Aphid Advisory Group to assist the industry manage the pest and has invested significant funding to research the pests voracity under Australian conditions. Mr Badcock said consumers should have no concern as the Lettuce Aphid causes no food safety issues and is easily washed off.
Growers and consumers seeking more information on the Lettuce Aphid are encouraged to visit the AUSVEG web site at www.ausveg.com.au.