Watch on exotic pests near cities

Research has shown that the highest likelihood of incursion of a serious exotic plant pest or disease will be in the vicinity of domestic dwellings near our major cities.

"The proximity of the Sydney suburbs to the major trade and travel entry points into NSW coupled with an abundance of suitable hosts means entry of exotic pests will be conducive in these areas," NSW DPI’s Peter Gillespie said

"However, the impact of such incursions will likely be hardest felt in the rural and regional areas.

"Risk analysis experts have said that peri-urban surveillance for exotic pests and diseases is important and will quickly identify and minimise the impact of potential incursions.

"NSW DPI has recently completed a program of urban surveillance for plant pests and diseases in the Sydney basin.

"A team of NSW DPI plant health experts visited sites across the Sydney basin during the last eight months searching for signs of serious exotic pests like fire blight, Asian citrus psyllid, Khapra beetle, Varroa mites and Solanum fruit fly.

"Given the size of Sydney, it is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack but careful selection of surveillance of sites in close proximity to importing companies and areas of high tourist numbers provide us with confidence that none of our pest and disease targets were present."

However, the surveillance did show presence of an unusual plant feeding bug and thrips. These are the subject of ongoing investigations.

The surveillance acivities also helped shed light on the distribution of a new pest in Sydney basin, the Sycamore lace bug, a pest established before the surveillance activities began.