Coffee borer in lychee plants from Taiwan

A dangerous borer that devastates food crops nearly made it to Australia in the New Year inside lychee plants, but was thwarted by the vigilant team at the Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) centre near Melbourne airport.

Red coffee borer was discovered inside a batch of 300 lychee plants from Taiwan

The red coffee borer, a pest found across Asia, was discovered inside a batch of 300 lychee plants from Taiwan.

A team of horticulturalists and plant pathologists who inspected the new arrivals became suspicious when they noticed significant borer holes and infestation on the stems and leaves. Live mites and fungi were also found on the lychee plants.

After forwarding specimens to the department’s entomology team, the pest was identified as red coffee borer.

This voracious stem borer from Asia feeds on a range of plants including grapes, citrus, apple, coffee, avocado, walnut and cotton. If it had entered the country, the consequences for Australian agriculture would have been devastating.

Due to this serious detection, the importer had two options – destroy all 300 plants, or export them out of Australia at their expense.

On 11 January 2017, all plants were destroyed as they didn’t meet importing conditions.

The outstanding detection work of the department’s biosecurity officers, horticulturalists and plant pathologists ensured this pest was unable to cross the border, preventing a significant outbreak in Australia.

This article was reproduced from the February 2017 edition of the newsletter Biosecurity Matters, by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water.

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