Plant pests and diseases
Australia is lucky to be free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests.
Exotic plant pests are capable of damaging our natural environment, destroying our food production and agriculture industries, and some could change our way of life.
Australia’s biosecurity system helps protect us from exotic plant pests.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment manages this system with state and territory governments, industry and the community.
Find out what you can do to:
- identify destructive plant pests and diseases
- stop unwanted and destructive plant pests and diseases getting into Australia
- report any signs of pests and diseases that you find.
National priority plant pests
The Plant Health Committee has recently reviewed the National Priority Plant Pests that are exotic to Australia, under eradication or have limited distribution. These are the focus of government investment and action, including funding through the Priority Pest and Disease Planning and Response. While by no means the only plant pests of biosecurity concern, the National Priority Plant Pests serve to highlight the sort of threats Australia faces. The National Priority Plant Pest will be used to focus national preparedness capability through the development of national action plans.
View the National Priority Plant Pests (2019)
Find out more about the Top 40 unwanted plant pests in this short video with Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer.
Check the priority plant pests:
- Xylella and exotic vectors
- Khapra beetle
- Spotted wing drosophila
- Fruit flies
- Karnal bunt
- Huanglongbing and vectors
- Exotic invasive ants
- Gypsy moth
- Brown marmorated stink bug
- Internal and external mites of bees
- Guava (Eucalyptus) rust
- Exotic invasive snails
- Zebra chip
- Airborne Phytophthora
- Ug99 (Wheat stem rust)
- Citrus canker
- Exotic bees
- Fire blight
- Potato cyst nematode
- Leaf miner
- Texas root rot
- Panama disease
- Cyst nematodes of cereals
- Plum pox virus (sharka)
- Exotic drywood termites
- Wheat stem sawfly
- Barley stripe rust
- Hessian fly
- Subterranean termite
- Phytoplasmas 16Srl group
- Fall armyworm and other exotic armyworms
- Exotic Tobamovirus
- Pine wilt nematode
- Exotic longhorn beetles
- Grape phylloxera
- Exotic stem borers
- Potato late blight
- Pine pitch canker
- Grapevine leaf rust
- Exotic Begomvirus
- Dutch elm disease
- Banana phytoplasma diseases
Stop plant pests and diseases coming to Australia
Travelling or mailing to Australia
All travellers arriving in Australia need to be aware of our biosecurity requirements. This includes completing your Incoming Passenger Card honestly, and declaring any items that could pose a biosecurity risk, including live animals and plants, animal products, plant material, and certain foods.
Before you travel, check what you can and can’t bring into Australia.
Check out the priority plant pests on this page to see how you can avoid these stowaways in your luggage.
When sending mail to Australia, accurately declare the contents of your package on the postal declaration label.
If you are moving to Australia you need to be vigilant for insects, bees, ants, plant material and soil when packing up your household goods. When you unpack always check again for pests or signs of their activity such as borer holes and frass in wooden items.
We all like a bit of online shopping but if you are purchasing goods from overseas, especially seeds, wooden items or goods made from organic materials, or unusual pets, you need to check whether it can legally come into Australia.
Many plant pests are capable of hiding in imported goods. Some pests can remain dormant in an item for years, and not emerge until environmental conditions are right.
Before you place your order check what can and can’t come into Australia. Some items may require an import permit.
Use the links above to find out more about the pests that have the potential to arrive in your mail.
Importing and shipping
Whether you are a stevedore, shipping agent, truck driver or a retailer selling imported goods- this puts you on the front line of defence against exotic pest incursions.
Many of our priority plant pests hitchhike their way to Australia with imported goods or attached to plant material, vessels, shipping containers and machinery.
You should always be vigilant to insects, bees, ants, soil and plant matter, as well as signs of pest activity such as borer holes in wooden items. This also applies to people moving their household goods to Australia.Use the pest links above to know what these pests look like, the time of year you’re likely to see them, and how to report any detections.
Farming and home gardening
As a grower or farmer your business relies on being pest and disease free. If you import plants, seeds and machinery, you need to be aware of, and comply with import requirements. This also applies to home gardeners and hobby farmers.Good biosecurity practices help protect your property from the entry and spread of pests and diseases.
Other plant pests of concern
There are a number of other serious plant pests that may have a significant impact on growers, industries or Australia’s environment or way of life.
- Citrus fruit borers (Citripestis sagittiferella and Prays endocarpa)
Hosts—Rutaceae, particularly citrus
- Exotic diseases of coconuts (phytoplasmas)
- Mango pulp weevil (Sternochaetus frigidus)
- Pine pitch canker (Fusarium circinatum)
Hosts—Douglas fir, pines
- Sugarcane stem-borers (Chilo, Sesamia and Scirpophaga spp.)
- Lesser auger beetle (Heterobostrychus aequalis)
Hosts—timber in service, range of horticultural and tree crops, amenity and plants
Field guide to identifying forest and timber exotic pests and diseases
Familiarise yourself with some of the exotic pest threats to your industry. You will be better able to recognise particular pest species should they enter Australia.
- Pest and Disease Image Library (PaDIL)—high-quality colour diagnostic images and information on pests and diseases
- Pest Information Document Database (PIDD)—high priority pests for some of Australia’s plant industries
- National diagnostic protocols—nationally endorsed diagnostic protocols for use when there is an incursion.
- Australia’s National Priority Plant Pests game [PDF 2.1MB]—a playing card game to learn about biosecurity pest and disease threats to Australia’s natural environment and plant health.
Check out the National pests & disease outbreak website for information on pests, diseases and weeds that are under national eradication programs.
Report your concerns
Signs of pests and diseases that are unusual or exotic to Australia should be reported immediately.
Pests found on imported goods, vessels and aircraft
IIf you see something that could have entered Australia with imported goods or in mail from overseas, report it by phoning the See. Secure. Report hotline on 1800 798 636 or use our online form.
Pests found on your farm or in your backyard
If you suspect you have found an unusual pest or disease on your farm or in your backyard, phone the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. This number will put you in touch with the department of primary industries or agriculture in your state or territory.