What is a plant pest?

Protecting plants from pests is an important part of keeping plants healthy within botanic gardens, agricultural systems and the natural environment, but what do we mean when we talk about plant pests?

In general, a plant pest is any species, strain or biotype of invertebrate pest or pathogen which harms plants, plant products or bees, or impacts social amenity or the environment.

Plant pests may be exotic (not currently in Australia) or established (present in Australia).

We also group plant pests in a variety of ways to work out which pests we need to focus on. For example:

  • High Priority Pests are pests identified as posing the greatest risk to a plant industry. Their overall risk is assessed based on based on the pest’s risk of entering, establishing and spreading in Australia as well as their potential economic impact. More information about high priority pests of particular industries is available on the Plant Health Australia website.
  • Leaf affected by Xylella. John Hartman, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org

    National Priority Plant Pests are pests that have been identified by the Plant Health Committee as priority pests that are either exotic to Australia, under eradication or have limited distribution within Australia. Currently, Australia’s number 1 National Priority Plant Pest is Xylella fastidiosa, an invasive bacterial pathogen. View the full list here.

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