Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Vegetable pests


Vegetables | Vegetable pests | Vegetable product management


High priority exotic pests of vegetables

Exotic pests are not currently present in Australia. The pests listed here have the potential to enter and become established in vegetable production regions. Each of these pests could have a high economic impact on vegetable production if they were to become established.

Implementing biosecurity measures to control endemic pests will go a long way towards preventing exotic pests from entering and becoming established on your farm.

For a complete list of exotic pests, contact AUSVEG for a copy of the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Vegetable Industry, Onions Australia for the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Onion Industry, the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council for the Biosecurity Plan for the Tomato Industry, or the Australian Ginger Industry Association for the Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Ginger Industry.

Information about other pests is available from the Plant Health Australia website for the following crops:


Priority pests of onions and potatoes

For growers of onions and potatoes, high priority pests are identified in specific industry biosecurity plans. Please contact Onions Australia or AUSVEG to obtain this information and to read the on-farm biosecurity practices recommended for these crops.

Carrot rust fly

carrot rust fly-1243119

Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, United States,

  • Psila rosae
  • Found in Europe, Canada, USA, New Zealand
  • Attacks carrots, parsnips, celery and parsley
  • Adult fly (6-8 mm in length) has a black body, reddish head, yellow legs and transparent wings
  • Damage caused by larvae, which are up to 1 cm in length and have a white-yellow cylindrical body without a distinctive head
  • Plant symptoms include irregular brown channels under the root surface, root deformation, leaf discolouration, reduction in plant growth and occasionally plant death
  • Larvae spread in soil and infested produce

Fact sheet

Exotic leafminers

serpentine leaf miner-5368098

Liriomyza huidobrensis. Photo by Merle Shepard, Gerald R Carner, and PAC Ooi, Insects and their Natural Enemies Associated with Vegetables and Soybean in Southeast Asia,

  • Liriomyza spp., including the American serpentine, tomato, pea and vegetable leafminers
  • Found in most vegetable producing countries worldwide
  • Attack a wide range of vegetable crops
  • Leafminers are small flies whose larvae feed internally on plants
  • Feeding punctures can be seen as white speckles on leaves
  • Mining scars, which can be easily seen on leaves or stems, range from straight to serpentine, depending on the species
  • Larvae can be spread in infested plant material

Fact sheets

Bacterial ring rot

potato ring rot-0656084

Clavibacter michiganensis ssp. sepedonicus. Photo by Central Science Laboratory, Harpenden Archive,

  • Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus
  • Found throughout Europe, Asia and North America
  • Infects tomato, eggplant and potato
  • Lower leaves show the first symptoms of wilting and discolouration of interveinal regions, and these progress up the stem
  • Primary potato tuber symptom is a discolouration of vascular tissue, visible as a yellow to brown ring when cut, which will ooze a creamy material
  • Freshly cut stems of infected plants also exude a white ooze
  • Spread with infected plant material

Fact sheet

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle-5178045

Leptinotarsa decemlineata. Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

  • Leptinotarsa decemlineata
  • Found throughout Europe, Asia and Central and North America
  • Attacks eggplant, capsicums, tomatoes and potato
  • Adult beetles are about 1 cm in length and larvae are bright red with a black head when young, changing to an orange colour before pupation
  • Both adults and larvae feed on leaves and stems, leaving sticky black excrement
  • Leaf defoliation is the most obvious symptom
  • Adults can fly up to 160 km but can also be spread with plant material or on farm machinery

Fact sheet



Priority alert pests for the Northern Adelaide Plains

Alert pests are those present in Australia, but have not yet become established on the Northern Adelaide Plains. If any of these pests are detected in the region, they should be reported immediately to ensure vegetable production in the area is not negatively affected by their establishment.

Queensland fruit fly and Mediterranean fruit fly

Mediterranean fruit fly-5193027

Ceratitis capitata. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service,

  • Bactrocera tyroni (Queensland fruit fly; Qfly) and Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly; Medfly)
  • Qfly is found in Eastern Australia and Medfly is found in Western Australia
  • Maggots found in fresh fruit and vegetables may be that of Qfly or Medfly
  • Qfly is wasp like, red-brown with yellow marks and is about 8 mm long
  • Medfly is 3-5 mm long, light brown with mottled wings that have distinct brown bands extending to the wing tips
  • After laying eggs in the fruit, some necrosis may be visible around the puncture mark. This may be followed by decomposition of the fruit

Fact sheet

Melon thrips

melon thrips-0660066

Photo by J Guyot, INRA, Pointe-à-Pitre, France,

  • Thrips palmi
  • Attacks a wide range of vegetable species
  • Adults (about 1 mm in length) are pale yellow but with numerous dark hairs on the body
  • Infested leaves become white or brown, then crinkle and die
  • Leaves and terminal shoots become stunted
  • Fruit may also show scars and deformities
  • Heavily infested fields can display a bronze colour
  • Can act as a vector for viruses

Fact sheet

Potato spindle tuber viroid

potato spindle tuber viroid-0162083

Pospiviroid PSTVd. Photo by Plant Protection Service Archive, Plant Protection Service,

  • PSTVd: Pospiviroid
  • Primary hosts are tomato, potato and avocado
  • PSTVd symptoms can be confused with other virus and viroid infections
  • Mild strains show no or minor symptoms
  • Severe strains induce leaves to curl downwards and become spindly with a rough surface and darker colour
  • Tubers become small, spindly and elongated, and may have growth cracks
  • Spread can occur through seed, tubers or mechanical transmission

Fact sheet


Priority endemic pests

Pests in this category are present in Australia and on the Northern Adelaide Plains. They are pests causing on-going problems in the region and are expensive or difficult to manage. The presence of these pests has forced specific monitoring and scouting, as they affect both the quality and yield of vegetables. Monitoring for the presence and life stages of these pests will allow for the most effective management procedures to be put in place.

Western flower thrips

western flower thrips-1476101

Frankliniella occidentalis. Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

  • Frankliniella occidentalis
  • Attacks a very wide range of vegetables, weeds and ornamentals
  • Insects are tiny and yellow to brown in colour
  • Can transmit a range of tospoviruses, including Tomato spotted wilt virus, which reduces tomato, capsicum, and eggplant quality and yield
  • Symptoms of infestation vary depending on the host
  • Fruit may become distorted or split
  • Thrips feeding symptoms include silvering, malformation and feeding scars
  • Spread by people movement, wind and infested plant material

Fact sheet

Currrant-lettuce aphid

lettuce aphid-1326239

Nasonovia ribisnigri. Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

  • Nasonovia ribisnigri
  • Mainly attacks currants (Ribes spp.) and lettuce
  • Adults (2-3 mm in length) have long legs and a spindle-shaped body that is green on Ribes spp. hosts, but can vary on other hosts
  • Aphid infestation results in leaf curl symptoms, dead hearts in head lettuce, and some stunting of plants
  • Fancy lettuce and leaf lettuce develop few symptoms
  • Honeydew production can result in sooty mould growth
  • Spread by wind or with infested plant material

Fact sheet

Greenhouse whitefly

greenhouse whitefly-1263015

Trialeurodes vaporariorum. Photo by W Billen, Pflanzenbeschaustelle, Weil am Rhein, Germany,

  • Trialeurodes vaporariorum
  • Main crops attacked are ornamentals, cotton and vegetables, especially transplants and seedlings of greenhouse vegetables
  • Nymphs or ‘crawlers’ range from pale green to brown and resemble scale insects
  • Adults (1.5 mm long) resemble tiny moths, with pale yellow wings that are held flat
  • Key impact of infestation is the production of honeydew, which encourages the development of sooty mould
  • Heavy infestations can result in leaf wilting and failure to set seed
  • Spread with infested plant material, on people and by wind

Fact sheet


More information

Pest surveillance

Reporting suspect pests