OSP Bulletin - March 2012
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- OSP Bulletin - March 2012
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The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry seeks to publish its work to the highest professional standards. The Commonwealth does not warrant the accuracy or currency of the information which comes from third parties. Readers should rely on their own skill and judgement in applying any information to particular issues or circumstances. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Commonwealth disclaims all liability for any loss, damage, expenses and costs incurred by any person arising out of using or relying on any part of the information provided in this Bulletin. Any use of this Bulletin’s content must be approved by DAFF Biosecurity prior to re-publication.
The Operational Science Program is part of Quarantine Operations within DAFF Biosecurity. OSP has Entomologists and Plant Pathologists around Australia to identify pests and diseases detected by inspectors and to provide training and other practical advice to inspectors about detecting pests and diseases in consignments. OSP is funded by other operational programs within DAFF. To provide feedback to these programs, OSP produces a monthly bulletin which gives details on some of the operational advice and highlights noted by OSP during the month. This public version of the OSP Bulletin has been edited to the extent that staff names, company names, in-confidence details, and some copyright pictures have been removed. A special word about photos is required. The Bulletin uses photos taken by staff where possible. However, some pictures, particularly of exotic pests and diseases, have been obtained from other sources and may have copyright restrictions on them.
Message from the OSP Manager
As the winter months approach, OSP focuses on training, both to increase the skills of the inspectors and others as well as to increase our own skills.
Congratulations to one of our Plant Pathologists who received the NE Region Winston Award for his development and implementation of a Plant Fibre Awareness Training Package.
An OSP Entomologist participated in a 2-day psyllid course organised by Dr Alan Yen of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries at Knoxfield. The course included several lectures by psyllid expert Dr Daniel Burckhardt of the Basel Museum of Natural History, Switzerland, as well as practicing field collecting techniques and identification in the laboratory. The course was very useful.
OSP Entomologists from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney received introductory acarology (mite) training from our Acarology Coordinator in the Sydney Regional Office. Participants were impressed by the amount of knowledge and experience passed on to them.
As part of our program to establish wider linkages, representatives from SE Region met with Dr Hugh Millar, Executive Director Biosecurity Victoria, and a number of other Victorian State Department representatives to discuss various biosecurity issues that impact across the biosecurity continuum.
Such linkages are becoming increasingly useful as we move to provide more support to surveillance and intelligence gathering activities as part of Biosecurity reform. In addition, we are exploring closer linkages with OCPPO to further these activities.
|Import Clearance||Fresh Produce||PEPQ||Airports||Seaports||Other||Year to date
|Pest or disease identified||Date||Location||In or upon||From||Action|
|Colletotrichumsp., Fusariumsp., Cladosporiumsp. and Paecilomycessp.||8 Mar||Nursery Stock Post Entry Quarantine, NSW||Draceana sanderiana||China||Export/destruction|
|Oakleaf viral symptoms||13 Mar||Rosebery Fresh Produce, NSW||Rose||India||Recondition or export/destruction|
|Plantago Asiatica Mosaic Virus||15 Mar||Nursery Stock Post Entry Quarantine, NSW||Lilium flowers||New Zealand||Affected bulbs destroyed as quarantine waste|
|Seed contamination: Arrhenatherumsp., Madia glomerata, Chenopodiumsp.||16 Mar||Rentokil, QLD||Linseed||Canada||Devitalise (heat treated)|
|Alternariasp. and smut fungi||20 Mar||Sydney Gateway Facility, NSW||Unidentified plant material||Sweden||Gamma or export/destruction|
|Legume seed pods and unidentified grass material||29 Mar||Rosebery Fresh Produce, NSW||Tapa mat||Tonga||Gamma or export/destruction|
|Bacterial leaf infection||Various||Rosebery Fresh Produce, NSW||Taro leaves, drumstick leaves||Fiji||Export/destruction|
|Pest or disease identified||Date||Location||In or upon||From||Action|
|Brown fir longhorn beetle
|27 Feb||Launceston, TAS||Dunnage associated with aluminium coils||China||Fumigation|
|Chocolate banded snail
|1 Mar||Adelaide, SA||Container||Unknown||Fumigation|
|Giant African snail
|2 Mar||Townsville wash bay, QLD||Container||PNG||Destruction|
|9 Mar||Fremantle, WA||Wooden crates||Italy||Fumigation|
|Rusty Longhorned beetle
|9 Mar||Adelaide, SA||Pallets||Turkey||Fumigation|
|Chinese powderpost beetle
|9 Mar||Private residence, WA||Xylophone||Unknown||Fumigation|
|12 Mar||Fremantle, WA||Timber chopping boards||Turkey||Fumigation|
|19 Mar||Private residence, WA||Coffee table||Unknown||Fumigation|
|19 Mar||Bibra Lake, WA||Home wares||China||Fumigation|
|Oriental garden lizard
|21 Mar||Melbourne, VIC||Vessel deck||Unknown||Euthanasia|
|Lesser auger beetle
|22 Mar||Adelaide, SA||Pallet||China||Fumigation|
|22 Mar||Perth International Airport, WA||Cargo||Singapore||Euthanized|
|Larger cabinet beetle
|23 Mar||Melbourne, VIC||Vessel dry stores||Unknown||Cold treatment , spray by pest controller|
|28 Mar||Hobart, TAS||Wine barrel hoops||France||Removal and destruction of hoops|
|Flat-tailed house gecko
|29 Mar||Dampier, WA||Imported cargo||Indonesia||Euthanasia|
Pest of the Month - Giant Honey Bee - Apis dorsata
Length: 14-20 mm, significantly larger than European Honey bees. The adults have a black head and thorax, with the abdomen having black and white stripes on variable background, ranging in colour from pale orange to very dark. The wings are notably darker than other Apis species, appearing to be a dusky dark brown.
China stretching south to Indonesia, east to Papua and west to Pakistan.
This species does not exhibit behaviour typical of an Apis sp. bee hive, where nests are often concealed in cavities. Instead they are identifiable by a single large comb (1-3 m) covered in layers of bees. In their native habitat the bees can be found hanging from the limbs of trees, or on buildings and other man-made structures. They are considered migratory and studies have shown that they will return to the same location year after year.
From a biosecurity point of view, this species may be found on the external surfaces of cargo including timber packaging, on shipping containers, and air cargo containers (particularly those wrapped in blue plastic). The bees are attracted to light which increases the risk of the cargo becoming infested if it is loaded under lights when the bees are swarming or foraging or when migration is occurring.
Symptoms and Impact
While the bees themselves are a biosecurity issue, the parasites which might be carried on and in their bodies pose a threat to Australia’s healthy and thriving honey industry. Parasitic mites such as the exotic Tropilaelaps spp. risk being introduced to Australian bee species if undetected in a swarm of their natural host Apis dorsata. The mites feed on bee broods and this poses a significant risk to native bee populations.
Apis dorsata is an aggressive species. They have the potential to readily escape and so they should be handled with care. If detected, do not move the contaminated structure/container. Contact your Regional OSP Entomologist who will advise further directions and mitigation options. It is useful to obtain photos and gather information regarding the incident for potential identification and further directions from the Entomologist.
Operational advice and highlights - International mail
In the SE Region, two separate post quarantine detections of the exotic powderpost beetle Lyctus africanus were made this month in electric guitars that members of the public had purchased from online stores. Both guitars had come from China via international mail. Officers at the Mail program were advised to closely inspect any electric guitars for signs of infestation — the two electric guitars were destroyed.
A large fresh (or not so fresh) chilli was intercepted by a Biosecurity Officer at the Sydney Gateway Facility in a mail package from the United Kingdom. The chilli was examined by an OSP Plant Pathologist and found to be heavily affected by fungal rot consistent with Fusarium sp. There are many high risk species and races of Fusarium that are not present in Australia and have the potential to cause significant losses to Australia’s agricultural industry. This interception was a great demonstration of the valuable work that Biosecurity Officers at mail centres perform.
In the CE Region, a parcel from Italy containing five live cacti was intercepted by a Biosecurity Officer. The cacti had no import permit nor were they clearly identified. The spectacular cacti were referred to the OSP Plant Pathology team and one was found to be infected with Fusarium sp. This pathway (movement through the mail without import permits) is a potential way in which CITES protected plants could move internationally. Furthermore, cacti are required to undergo a three month post entry quarantine isolation period which these cacti would have circumvented. As the cacti were clearly intended for propagation they represent a high risk to Australia's biosecurity and were destroyed.
Operational Advice and Highlights - General Cargo
Several significant detections of exotic longicorn beetles were made in the SE Region in late February and early March. These included the detection of brown fir longhorn (Callidium villosulum) by a Biosecurity Officer in a container of aluminium coil from China at Launceston, Tasmania. The supplier had been targeted by profiling because of undeclared timber in the past and this container also held undeclared dunnage. The container and dunnage was fumigated with methyl bromide at the timber rate. Another significant Tasmanian interception was made by a Biosecurity Officer when she found a longhorn beetle emerging from the chestnut hoop of an oak wine barrel imported from France. The SE Region Entomologists identified it as the longhorn beetle Poecilium lividum, a species that is known to infest oak and chestnut trees in the Northern Hemisphere. The importer opted to have the hoops removed and destroyed.
In the SE Region an importer of a container of oak timber floorboards from Lithuania noticed several live insects upon opening the container doors. Staff collected specimens, closed the doors, and contacted DAFF Biosecurity. The SE Region Entomologists identified one of the insects as the exotic woodwasp Urocerus fantoma and the other as a black spruce longhorn beetle (Tetropium castaneum).Following fumigation of the container, staff from OSP and the Risk Unit conducted an inspection and recovered further dead specimens which included another exotic species, brown spruce longhorn beetle (Tetropium fuscum). All three species are significant timber pests in the northern hemisphere so this was an excellent detection by the importer. Pictured are the oak floorboards, and a female (middle) and male (right) woodwasp (Urocerus fantoma) that was infesting the pallets.
OSP in SE Region delivered another Quarantine Awareness for Stevedores session to a group of new DP World recruits. The session covered the key pests and diseases of biosecurity significance that may be encountered during unloading operations on the wharf and encourages staff to “See-Secure-Report” if they notice anything suspicious. OSP in the NE Region presented two Cargo Pest and Disease awareness sessions to 22 AAT staff at Fisherman’s Island. CE Region OSP continued to deliver a range of technical training for regional staff. Many of these courses have been for officers returning to the Cargo program from the Airport and Mail programs. This month’s training has included Pests and Diseases of Stored Products as well as Microscope Usage and Pest and Disease Awareness for Stevedores doing their Class 1 Broker Air and Sea-freight training. The Seeds Module (Pests and Diseases of Imported Seeds) was also delivered. Feedback from all the courses has been very positive.
A number of training packages were also rolled out to Adelaide staff by OSP SW Region; these were received with enthusiasm by both new and established staff. The knowledge gained will be essential in equipping inspectorate staff with a range of skills in recognising pests and diseases in the field.
One NE Region Biosecurity Officer intercepted the voracious and highly destructive exotic termite pest Coptotermes formosanus (Formosan termite, pictured) this month. The small colony was found living inside some wooden packaging material ex. Singapore.
A NE Region Biosecurity Officer was surprised by a live Anolis sp. lizard (similar to the one pictured left) in a used boat ex. USA. This genus of lizard does not occur in Australia and could therefore carry exotic diseases. Well done to all concerned with the detection.
In the SE Region, a post quarantine detection (PQD) was made of the exotic lesser auger beetle (Heterobostrychus aequalis) in a consignment of 200 wooden make-up chairs that had been imported from China for a chain of beauty salons. The chairs had been released on documentation because the paperwork stated that they were manufactured from MDF, not timber. The Risk Unit is investigating and the chairs will be treated.
A NE Region Biosecurity Officer from the CIU/ICE team responded to a PQD of an exotic timber pest this month. A cerambycid larva was detected in a wooden cable spool ex. China (pictured). The larva was identified as exotic by OSP, possibly the high impact Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora chinensis). A good detection.
Thanks to Quarantine awareness training, staff at Qantas Cargo in Perth were quick to report a hitchhiking beetle found hiding under the metal strapping of a plywood crate imported from Hong Kong. Inspection of the facility by Biosecurity Officers found no further detections. The single interception was identified as a China fir borer (Semanotus sinoauster). The specimen was sent to Ken Walker at the Melbourne Museum to be photographed for addition to the Pest and Disease Image Library, a valuable reference tool for the OSP Entomology network.
Egg mass of a local moth species (Scirpophaga nivella), in-situ (left) and after dissection (right)
A great example of the National OSP network in action was given in using molecular techniques to diagnose difficult pests. A Biosecurity Officer from Gladstone collected what looked superficially like an Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) egg mass from a vessel’s superstructure. After the egg mass was removed and examined by NE Region Entomologists, a sample was sent to a SW Region OSP Plant Pathologist who conducted molecular analyses and determined they were a local species of Pyralidae moth (Scirpophaga nivella).
In the CE Region, a small powerboat on a trailer imported from the USA was found to be infested with spiders and contaminated with water. The spiders were sent to the OSP laboratories and identified as immature widow spiders, the group which includes the exotic black widow spider. Biosecurity Officers at the Sydney depot were confident that all areas could be treated with insecticide and the boat was re-inspected after the treatment. All water was chemically treated prior to the boat and trailer being sent for a wash. The picture shows a typical containerized boat from the USA.
The owner of a wooden TV cabinet at a private residence near Newcastle noticed signs of insect infestation about a month after buying it. DAFF Biosecurity Officers collected some beetles for OSP identification and, with the assistance of an external expert, these borers were identified as Xylocis tortilicornis, an auger beetle only intercepted once before in the CE Region. The borer has been recorded as a pest attacking various timbers in countries such as Thailand and India. CE Region PQD staff visited the outlet from which the item was purchased and ordered treatment of the infested items. A fumigation failure report was completed for Canberra.
Staff on a cruise ship bound for Sydney found live burnt pine longicorn (BPL) beetles on board after it departed from Port Chalmers in New Zealand in mid- March. Staff on board the vesel conducted a thorough inspection of the ship and having collected a sample for positive identification focussed on dealing with the BPL infestation by washing down the decks and where necessary applying insecticide. Images of the beetles were sent to CE Region Seaports and OSP Entomologists confirmed that they were BPL. The vessel arrived in Sydney three days later and was inspected on arrival. The inspection by DAFF Biosecurity Seaports staff and the CE Region Senior Entomologist found only a few live beetles. It was evident that staff on board the ship had done an excellent job of treating the BPL infestation during their trans-Tasman voyage. This represents a good biosecurity outcome and shows the collaboration of key stakeholders in dealing with biosecurity issues.
The CE Region has again seen a number of imported live fish consignments from Indonesia infested with various pests in the cardboard packaging. Most of this seems to be the result of using second hand cardboard cigarette boxes to hold the bags of fish. OSP Entomologists received submissions of ticks, wasps, reproductive ants, as well as fly pupae and snails in a few of the water bags of fish. All such infested packaging was treated by full removal and cold treatment (freezing prior to disposal as quarantine waste). Any contamination of snails or fly pupae in the bags of fish have been destroyed or fully removed. The flies were identified as an aquatic family known as Ephydrid flies. Some of the ants and wasps found in the cardboard of the imported boxes from Indonesia are pictured.
A member of the public contacted the CE Region PQD team when they noticed frass coming from their recently imported bed head, part of their personal effects sent to Canberra in a shipping container after they spent time in Vietnam. As the item had only been imported a month earlier the owners were concerned that the bed head was infested with an exotic borer. An officer collected a live larva from the bed head and sent it to OSP Entomologists in Sydney for identification. Although a full identification could not be determined due to the lack of reliable identification keys for larvae, it was identified as a longicorn borer and is almost certainly exotic. OSP recommended the item be treated and a report was completed for Central Office. The client was thanked for alerting DAFF to this matter.
The importers of a large consignment of bamboo garden stakes from China were quick to advise CE Region Post Quarantine officers when a worker at the Sydney QAP noticed frass coming from some of the bags. A CE Region PQD Officer visited the Sydney wholesaler and collected a number of live borers and submitted them to OSP Entomologists. The borers were identified as Bostrychopsis paralella, an exotic auger beetle which attacks bamboo and is found in the Asian Region. OSP recommended treatment options which are being organised and a report has been completed for Canberra. Luckily 90 percent of the consignment was still unsold and could be treated on site. The client was thanked for their diligence. The CE Region Coordinator for Failed Fumigations will also investigate the case. The pictures show Bostrychopsis paralellaand the infested consignment of bamboo stakes from China at a Sydney QAP just prior to treatment.
Operational advice and highlights - Passengers
In late February, a SE Region Biosecurity Officer made an interesting interception of some weevils from the bag of a passenger that had arrived from Eritrea in North Africa. The SE Region Entomologists took photos of the weevils as they hadn’t been intercepted before. Specimens were sent to the OSP liaison officer at Australian National Insect Collection who in turn forwarded them to weevil specialist Dr Rolf Oberprieler. Rolf thought that the weevils might be Aplemonus sp., and this was confirmed by Dr Marek Wanat (Museum of Natural History, Wroclaw University, Poland), an expert in this group of weevils. Several species of this genus are distributed in Africa but as the adults had only recently emerged from the pupal case or nymphal skin, it was not possible to identify them to species level.
Qantas Airport staff at Perth International Airport handed DAFF Biosecurity staff an exotic frog that they had found mixed in cargo that had arrived from Singapore. The banded bullfrog Kaloula pulchrais an urban species that frequently arrives in Australia as a hitch hiker.
A noisy surprise awaited a Northern Region Biosecurity Officer when he picked out a suspicious looking timber item from China on the X-ray at Cairns Airport. The items turned out to be gourds which were being used to house two large exotic crickets. Keeping crickets is a traditional pastime still followed in many parts of China where the crickets are used for fighting or kept for the songs they produce. These particular crickets were a species of Gampsocleis, most likely G. gratiosa,the Chinese bush cricket or Guoguo. It is a species kept for its singing ability. The pictures show the crickets and gourds with wire ‘seals’.
A NE Region Plant Pathologist prepared a risk statement regarding the illegal importation of soybean seed at the Brisbane International Airport.
NE Region OSP Plant Pathology received diseased fresh mandarins ex Vietnam, seized from a passenger at Brisbane Airport by a DAFF Biosecurity Officer. The symptoms were caused by the fungus Diaporthe citri, one of the major factors contributing to fruit blemish in citrus. The disease, known as Melanose, is a common condition and is not actionable.
Operational Advice and Highlights - Fresh Produce and Plants
An entomologist and a plant pathologist from OSP in the SE Region were joined by Central Office staff from Plant Biosecurity in presenting training for the upcoming import of NZ apples. The Central Office staff were very informative and provided some great background knowledge on the Apple IRA and the pests and diseases of biosecurity concern. The major points of discussion were around fire blight (Erwinia amylovora), European Canker (Nectria gallegina) and apple leaf curling Midge (Dasineura mali). OSP provided practical advice regarding inspections and likely interceptions for apples. Biosecurity Officers earmarked for offshore verification inspections came from around the country in what was a very informative and open discussion about this import pathway.
Several medium risk ornamental samples were examined and tested by SE Regional Plant Pathologists but none of the plants were found to be infected with pathogens of biosecurity concern. A Clivia sample from a private QAP was found to be infected with Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus which is not actionable but nevertheless a serious disease. The test was done using a multi-virus test strip that takes less than two minutes, a far cry from the two days it used to take before OSP introduced this innovation. Pictured are the Clivia leaves with obvious viral symptoms and the test kit showing a positive result for Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus.
An unusual thread bug (Gampsocorissp.) was collected from a consignment of Limonium cut flowers from Kenya in Perth. The genus is suspected to be a vector of a plant disease affecting cocoa.
Leaf spotting on Fuchsia plants ex Kenya was investigated by NE Region Plant Pathologists. Cultures of the suspect fungal problem were obtained and a very attractive fungus was isolated which produced beautiful fruiting bodies (see picture). Unfortunately, the fruiting structures were rather difficult to identify so sequencing was used to try to identify the fungus. This worked well and provided a perfect match to a voucher specimen of Chaetomella raphigera. This fungus has been reported from Australia and, from the vigorous growth of the Fuchsias, the fungus would appear to be only an opportunistic pathogen. The Fuchsias were released from PEQ.
Live cuttings of Pongamia (Millettia pinnata), a biofuel plant imported from India, were inspected in Cairns. The cuttings had not one, but three species of exotic arboreal ants nesting inside the narrow stems. There was a large, black species of Tetraponeura which appeared to drill neat circular holes in the stem and the very tiny Rogeria species, which seemed to exploit knots and scars in the thin cuttings. Of particular interest was a curious species of Tapinoma (possibly annandalei). This ant is dimorphic with a phragmotic (plug-headed) form as well as the more usual worker which looks like the widespread ghost ant (T. melanocephalum). Cuttings with signs of damage were destroyed and the rest were fumigated and re-inspected for signs of further ant activity.
(Left to Right) Tapinoma colony: adults; pupae and grubs inside stem; Phramotic head of T. amandalesi(?); Dimorphic Tapinoma amandalei(?) workers; Teraponeura sp. exit hole in cutting;
A rarely intercepted mite was found on oranges during an inspection at a Sydney Depot this month. The mite proved difficult to identify but, with assistance of OSP’s Acarology Coordinator , it was identified as a species of Neophyllobius. These mites are predatory on other mites but in general little is known about their biology. The client opted to have the oranges treated as identification to species level would have involved finding an external expert to assist with this. The slide mounted mite will be added to the mite collection at the Rosebery laboratory and the information will be added to existing mite manuals.
A box of USA oranges and neophillius species (Family: Camerobiidae)
While it is common for Biosecurity Officers to collect mites from imported taro grown in the Pacific region, a CE Region Biosecurity Officer found an unusual worm and submitted it to OSP Entomologists for identification. It turned out to be a predatory fresh water bristle worm from the family Syllidae. While most are marine, some species are found in fresh water. The client opted to have the taro fumigated as it was also infested with bulb mites from the genus Rhizoglypus.
A CE Region Nursery Stock Officer inspected an unusual product from Tonga this month which had an infestation of borers. While the kava root in question came to Nursery stock it was actually to be used as an ornament. He collected two live bostrichid borers from the roots including one of biosecurity concern. It was decided that gamma irradiation was an appropriate treatment making the roots non-viable and also addressing the infestation issue. The pictures give an example of kava roots and stems and a bostrichid larva.
A CE Region Fresh Produce Officer was hot on the trail of some leaf miner maggots when inspecting snow peas from Thailand. He recognised the characteristic silver trails (see picture) these pests leave as a result of their feeding just under the surface of the pod. Alan was able to collect a number of live larvae from the peas and submitted them to the OSP Senior Entomologist who identified them as leaf miners from the family Agromyzidae. This family includes a number of highly invasive leaf mining pests and fumigation plus re-inspection was recommended. Plant Quarantine Operations in Canberra was notified of the interception. The client opted to destroy the consignment.
CE Region OSP scientists are seeing multiple daily submissions of thrips from Mexican asparagus. The imports have been arriving over the last few weeks with nearly all requiring treatment for actionable flower thrips (Frankliniellaspecies). Nearly all consignments have also had onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) present and some had also been infested with noctuids caterpillars and aphids. There are biosecurity concerns regarding the vector capability of these thrips and aphids in vectoring diseases which may not be present in Australia. Pictured are (left) Thrips tabaci and (right) Frankliniella species.
Two CE Region Nursery Stock Officers collected various pests on yellow monitoring sticky traps during their inspection of roses in a post entry quarantine glasshouse this month. OSP has recommended treatment options to control these pests in the private glasshouse. These pests are commonly seen in glasshouses and included some disease vectors that need to be brought under control before the plants are released. An external entomologist will also look at these traps but the pests captured all appear to be from the local environment.
Operational Advice and Highlights - Industry Arrangements Management
The OSP-IAM Coordinator in SE Region,has been busy reviewing standard operating procedures of class 5 and 6.1 QAP’s of NE Region and SW Region which will be audited next month. In consultation with IAM staff of Brisbane and Perth the audit dates have now been finalised. The Coordinator attended the SE Region IAM monthly meeting where issues were raised relating to the use of wet stamps to release certified and non-certified bulbs from quarantine. He was able to give some background knowledge and discuss options to resolve the issue.
Two OSP Entomologists from the CE Region assisted with two one-hour sessions of Class one (Air and Sea freight) broker training this month. In these sessions OSP gave a presentation on biosecurity issues that stevedores and depot workers should be aware of and vigilant for. Samples of Asian gypsy moth, giant African snail, black spined toads and other high-impact pests were taken to the presentations to provide hands-on training. Feedback from the groups was very positive.
Operational advice and highlights - Post Entry Plant Quarantine
During March there were numerous meetings on the Future Post Entry Quarantine project including visits by the design team in the SE and CE Regions. Similarly, further progress on the refurbishment programs of the Knoxfield and Eastern Creek PEPQ facilities occurred.
A consignment of Ziziphusspp. ex China being grown at the Knoxfield PEPQ facility displayed poor growth, wilting and various foliar symptoms. Ziziphus is known to be a host of Hop Stunt Viroid and an exotic Phytoplasma. The client was informed that these plants will undergo further testing prior to release. New Prunus imports have successfully completed their first round of Plum Pox Virus testing, the most significant biosecurity threat of stone fruit. Herbaceous indexing of three potato imports was completed and no obvious virus symptoms were observed. Bacterial and fungal testing of new berry imports has been undertaken and results are pending.
Virus testing performed by CE Region Plant Pathologists on clonal grass varieties undergoing post entry quarantine at Eastern Creek gave a positive result in one variety. The grass showed symptoms of faint chlorotic blotches and streaks during routine observations that were consistent with a virus. All clonal grass imports are subject to a range of mandatory virus tests. One of these tests, the double stranded RNA (dsRNA) test, involves the isolation and purification of dsRNA from plant material. Since the occurrence of dsRNA in the plant indicates the presence of RNA viruses, the result of dsRNA test suggests that the symptoms observed could be due to a dsRNA virus. There are many viruses affecting clonal grasses that are known pathogens of economically significant crops such as rice, barley, wheat and rye. The detection is of biosecurity concern and the variety was recommended for destruction. The picture shows symptomatic leaves of the clonal grass, with an asymptomatic leaf on left.
Operational advice and highlights - Seaports
A small ecology of animals was detected on live plants aboard a cruise ship upon its visit to Cairns. There were at least two species of soft scale insects, one species of aphid (Cerataphis sp.), a tramp species of millipede (Oxidius gracilis), slaters (Porcellio sp.), springtails and some very small snails (4-5 mm) hiding in the base of one of the peace lilies. The plants were sourced from Hawaii and the snails are being sent to an expert for further identification. These detections highlight the potential for live plants on vessels to harbour a diversity of organisms of biosecurity concern.
A SE Region Seaports Officer made a significant detection of the exotic larger cabinet beetle (Trogoderma inclusum) in the dry stores of a commercial vessel. The foodstuffs were ordered to be cold treated in the freezer and a commercial pest controller sprayed out the room with an approved insecticide
The Northern Region’s Entomologist travelled to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait to inspect the vessel ‘Panacea’ (pictured being fumigated). This vessel was identified as being infested with drywood termites on its arrival into Australia at Gove over four months earlier. He inspected the vessel and liaised with the fumigator to ensure biosecurity concerns were effectively addressed in treating the vessel.
The development of the e-Learning training package for Mosquito Vector Monitoring is nearing completion with the technical information currently being loaded into the e-Learning software. Module 1 has been completed with Modules 2, 3 and 4 to follow. The e-Learning training is interactive and will allow participants to complete the training as time permits, reducing absences due to training, particularly in regional ports.
The SE Regional Vector Coordinator performed the final stage of the GPS mapping initiative for mosquito vector monitoring in the SE Region and performed surveillance with vector officers while visiting the Geelong and Portland Seaports. In Geelong, all trap sites were GPS mapped and while performing surveillance with another officer several tyres were identified that required remediation. Efforts are currently underway to have these tyres removed. In Portland, all trap sites were GPS mapped and several sentinel tyres were moved to address ongoing issues in regard to the tyres becoming filled with woodchips. While performing surveillance with another officer several tyres were identified that also required remediation. This stack of tyres (pictured) within the 400m surveillance zone at Portland could have acted as a breeding sites for mosquitoes but has now been removed from the site . The GPS mapping initiative for vector monitoring has now been adopted nationally and other regions are currently working toward this goal. GPS mapping will be useful for other surveillance activities undertaken in the port environment.
Two not-so-usual mosquito suspects were intercepted in a container from Singapore/Dili in Darwin. The species were Culex quinquefasciatus, a vector of West Nile Fever, and Cullex pullus. Both species are already present here but also have distributions outside of Australia. The developmental stage of the larvae indicated they were from overseas; this can be a problem if overseas populations vary in their capacity to vector disease, something that is known for some species of mosquito. Unusually, the mosquitoes weren’t breeding in receptacles like tyres but in the flooded base of an open top container. These mosquitoes don’t have drought resistant eggs so the pooled water must have been present for the entire journey to Australia. This interception is therefore unusual in that it represents the importation of ground pool-like habitat into Australia. Although in this case the species were not of major disease concern, this sort of habitat carries with it the risk of a wide suite of potential mosquito vectors. It also highlights the risk in many Northern Region ports where voyage times from neighbouring countries can be very short. The pictures show the open top container—most of the pooled water drained out when the container was opened and the Westmead Hospital Department Medical Entomology image of Cx. pullus.
The NE Region Regional Vector Coordinator collected an unusual mosquito larva (pictured left) while dipping within the international seaport area in Brisbane. The larvae had no pecten, a dark head siphon and two rows of spines in the lateral comb and could not be keyed out to a species using the usual reference material. The specimen was sent to Professor Richard Russell at Westmead Hospital who identified it as Mimomyia elegans. Found in NT, QLD and NSW, this species has previously been collected on the odd occasion as an adult in North QLD but this was the first time the DAFF Biosecurity vector network has collected a larval specimen. Mimomyia elegansis not known to bite humans and is not considered a vector risk.
CSIRO - DAFF Biosecurity liaison
Eight specimens were submitted in March to OSP-CSIRO ANIC Liaison Entomologist for identification. Of these, six were physical specimens and two were images of specimens. Seven were identified to genus and three were identified to species. The one specimen not identified to genus is mentioned below. Five of these specimens were of quarantine concern. Twenty seven new taxa tree entries (21 OSP, 6 NAQS) were verified during March.
One submission of note was a 9 mm long beetle from the family Silvanidae (flat bark beetles), which was intercepted at the Brisbane international airport in personal effects from Cambodia. This family contains a number of pest species. However, this specimen was not one of the regular specimens intercepted from this family and was quite unusual looking. Using a key to the silvanid sub-family Brontinae written by world expert, Michael Thomas, resulted in a tentative identification of Protodendrophagus. Michael, was contacted and he agreed that the beetle appeared to be closely related to Protodendrophagus, which is only found in New Zealand. He mentioned John Marris at the Lincoln University New Zealand, who is currently researching this genus. John said that specimens of Protodendrophagus have only been recorded from a unique habitat of lichen covered rocks on New Zealand’s South Island at an elevation of 1400+ m, and so it is highly unlikely that this genus would be found in Cambodia. John believes that the specimen intercepted represents a new genus of Silvanidae. The specimen has been curated and is currently stored in the DAFF collection at the ANIC. Hopefully one day someone will study this specimen and provide it with a new genus and species name.
The SE Region Entomologists undertook several taxonomic training courses this month. One participated in a 2-day psyllid (Hemiptera) course at the Victorian Department of Primary Industries at Knoxfield. The course was organised by Dr Alan Yen (DPI) and involved attending several lectures by psyllid expert Dr Daniel Burckhardt (Basel Museum of Natural History, Switzerland) as well as field collecting techniques and identification in the laboratory. The course was very useful and notes based on it were provided to the DAFF Biosecurity OSP Entomology network. The pictures show Dr Burckhardt giving his lecture and field sweep-netting for psyllid specimens.
Two training courses for OSP Entomologists were held in Sydney in March. OSP Entomologists from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney received introductory acarology (mite) training from Acarology Coordinator in the Sydney Regional Office. Participants were impressed by the amount of knowledge and experience passed on by our talented colleague. We thank the presenter for the effort he put in to ensuring the course was a success and for broadening our taxonomic knowledge of this diverse group of invertebrates.
There are many implications for the proper diagnosis of mites as they infest a wide range of commodities. The photo by Jürgen shows an example of a mite, Typhlodromipssp., that has been detected on US citrus.
The second course run in Sydney (at the Australian Museum) was on leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae). It was delivered by Dr Chris Reid, a leaf beetle expert from the Australian Museum. There were OSP participants from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, two colleagues from the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS), and two Entomologists from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in New Zealand. The course involved lectures as well as learning how to identify intercepted specimens from this diverse group of beetles. Both of these courses will improve the capacity of the National OSP Entomology network by enhancing the skills of OSP scientists in the identification of the broad range of pest species encountered from all parts of the world on a multitude of commodities. The picture shows a caffeine hit for the soon-to-be leaf beetle experts.
Mark Whattam, Director, Scientific Services, SE Region represented DAFF at a CRC Plant Biosecurity workshop on Effective Detection and Response in Melbourne on the 15th of March.
Representatives from SE Region including Mark met with Dr Hugh Millar, Executive Director Biosecurity Victoria, and a number of other Victorian State Department representatives to discuss various biosecurity issues that impact across the biosecurity continuum.
OSP representatives in the SE Region attended a workshop on Managing Risk in DAFF: The Fundamentals. This nationally facilitated training has been designed to give participants a fundamental understanding and awareness of risk, risk management and the way that DAFF manages risk in both enterprise (business) and biosecurity contexts.
OSP representatives along with key client program staff attended an ORADS meeting in Canberra in early March.
The NE Region Technal Manager (Plant Pathologiy) met with the A/g Director Plant Products, to discuss blue stain issues and to accompany her on an audit of timber inspections at Fisherman’s Island. Vanessa also participated in a teleconference with Canberra staff regarding blue stain and in the PEPICC meeting.
The National Director Technical Training and the Assistant Secretary Biological Import Operations & Marine Pests Branch spent time with OSP staff during their visit to the NE Region as part of the "Knowing the Business Program". Michael Thompson from the Plant Biosecurity CRC also visited the Entomology laboratory and was involved in discussions with OSP regarding new/emerging diagnostic technologies.
Congratulations to one of our Plant Pathologist who received the NE Region Winston Award for his development and implementation of a Plant Fibre Awareness Training Package.
Two CE Region Plant Pathologists attended a ChemCert course to gain re-accreditation for the transportation, handling and storage of chemicals and also on the preparation and application of chemicals. This is an important aspect of their work responsibilities which includes giving advice to others on the application of pesticides to plants in the Post Entry Quarantine facility at Eastern Creek.
The Northern Region OSP Entomologist and a NAQS Pathologist presented the OSP Pest and Disease Induction package to Cert III trainees in Cairns. Trainees were introduced to biosecurity pests and diseases and were able to get up close and personal with a host of examples under the microscope.
05 Jun 2012