Plant diseases and pests

Exotic plant pest and disease outbreaks

This page has information to help you identify and report exotic plant pests and diseases found in the Northern Territory (NT).

Plant biosecurity protects growers, the general public and the environment from plant pests and diseases.

American serpentine leafminer

American serpentine leafminer poses a serious threat to Australia’s horticulture, nursery production, and agricultural plant industries.

The larvae of these flies are tiny maggots which burrow between the upper and lower layers of leaves of vegetables and soft leaved decorative plants.

When these larvae mine between the leaf layers, it can cause damage to the leaf and the plant, which is why the species is considered a plant pest.

It was first found in northern Australia in 2021, with the first case in the NT confirmed in August.

Find out more on the Australian Government's Outbreak website.

Banana freckle

Banana freckle is a serious disease of banana leaves and fruit and was detected in the NT in 2013.

A successful eradication response was carried out and the NT was declared free of the pest in 2019.

Read more about banana freckle.

Citrus canker

Citrus canker is a contagious bacterial disease that affects all citrus plants and some other plant species of the Rutaceae citrus family.

It was identified in the NT and Western Australia in 2018.

A nationally coordinated response to eradicate the disease was successful in 2021 and the NT and was declared free of citrus canker.

Read more about citrus canker disease.

Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus

This disease is new to Australia and infects watermelon, cucumber, melons, zucchini, pumpkin, squash, bitter gourd, bottle gourd and some species of closely related weeds.

For more information go to the section on cucumber green mottle mosaic virus.

Myrtle rust

This disease is caused by the fungus Uredo rangelii and is considered part of the eucalyptus/guava rust fungi group.

Myrtle rust was first identified in New South Wales in April 2010 and has been detected in the NT.

Asian honey bee

The NT is on the alert for Asian honey bees, which are a significant threat to Australia and NT honey and pollination industries.

They can carry varroa, tropilaelaps and tracheal mites and can also spread other pests or diseases to European honey bees, which are used to produce honey.

Read more about the Asian honey bee alert and how to report sightings of unusual bees.

European foulbrood

European foulbrood has been detected on a small number of bee hives in Katherine. This is a notifiable honey bee disease in the NT.

Read more about bee diseases and how to protect your bee hives.

American foulbrood

American foulbrood is a fatal bacterial disease of honey bee brood. It was detected in Alice Springs in 2019 and 2020.

It has not been detected outside of the Alice Springs township.

Heavy infections can affect most of the brood, severely weakening the colony and eventually killing it. It is a notifiable disease and must be reported.

Read more about American foulbrood.

Browsing ants

Browsing ants were found at Darwin Port and two neighbouring sites in 2015.

Browsing ants - Lepisiota frauenfeldi - are exotic and are not established in Australia. They form large colonies and eat and displace native ant species, as well as other insects in the infested area. They are not harmful to humans.

Read more about browsing ants and other exotic ants that are endangering the NT environment.

Dickeya zeae

The bacteria Dickeya zeae was detected in pineapples on one property in the NT in 2016.

The grower has put voluntary quarantine arrangements in place on the property.

All commercial pineapple plantations in the NT have been inspected along with a number of local nurseries. There have been no further detections.

Growers should always maintain good biosecurity practices. For more information on how to minimise risks to your crops visit the Farm Biosecurity website.

Report suspicious pests and diseases

If you see any plant pest or disease you think is suspicious, report it to the exotic plant pest hotline 1800 084 881.

You can also call Plant Biosecurity on 08 8999 2118 or email plantbiosecurity@nt.gov.au.

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Last updated: 13 August 2021

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