Pest and disease double threat: Glassy winged sharpshooter and citrus variegated chlorosis

A close up of the insect

An exotic plant pest is a disease-causing organism or an invertebrate not present in Australia and which threatens agricultural production, forestry or native and amenity plants.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) is a large, sap-sucking, leafhopper that feeds on a wide variety of plants, including citrus. Although GWSS causes little physical damage on its own, its ability to spread the bacterial disease citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) makes it a pest of high importance to Australia’s citrus industry. Neither GWSS nor CVC (caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa) are present in Australia and their introduction has the potential to devastate Australian citrus production.

Citrus trees infected with CVC become stunted and have slow growth. Fruit produced is significantly smaller with a higher sugar content and harder rind. Although CVC rarely kills infected trees, there is no treatment for the disease other than to remove infected limbs or whole trees to try and prevent its spread throughout the orchard.

Two fruit showing signs of insect impactsGWSS spreads CVC by feeding on infected plants before moving to feed on other citrus trees. An important way to stop the introduction of CVC to Australia is to look out for GWSS. Citrus variegated chlorosis can also spread by grafting infected plant material, so budwood should only be imported into the country through legal channels and tested in post-entry quarantine before release. It is essential that orchards are planted with healthy, disease-free trees.

Follow the links for further information on how to recognise and protect your property from Glassy-winged sharpshooter and citrus variegated chlorosis on the NSW DPI website. Information about exotic pests and biosecurity for citrus orchards is available in the industry manual and from the Citrus Australia website.

If you suspect that you have found GWSS or seen symptoms of CVC in Australia call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.