From Forest Health News 234, March 2013
In April 2012 Forest Health News (No. 224) reported that the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln started trials on the use of an Australian ladybird, Cleobora mellyi, to control the potato-tomato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli, in New Zealand. Cleobora mellyi was introduced into New Zealand in 1977 for the control of the eucalyptus tortoise beetle, Paropsis charybdis. The adults and larvae of C. mellyi feed on the eggs of the tortoise beetle but also eat psyllids and aphids. Without psyllids as part of its diet the ladybird lays very few eggs.
The team at the Bio-Protection Research Centre (led by Steve Wratten) have demonstrated that C. mellyi is a very effective predator of B. cockerelli in the laboratory and earlier this month C. mellyi eggs, larvae and adults were released into an organic potato crop in Mid Canterbury. For further details see (or rather listen to) http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld/audio/2549113/ladybird-release.asx.
It is hoped that the ladybirds find the potato patch to their liking and they stay there and breed. Its potential as a biological control agent appears to be very promising.
The potato-tomato-psyllid causes major damage in New Zealand’s potato and tamarillo industries and also damages capsicums, tomatoes and eggplants.