Tobacco Whitefly found in poinsettia cultivations


<div>In inspections carried out by Evira and the TE-Centres the tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) has been found in 38 nurseries producing poinsettias. In addition, tobacco whiteflies have been found in poinsettia plant production and in connection with market monitoring and import inspections.</div>

This year there have been findings of tobacco whitefly about three weeks earlier than in previous years, which indicates a more prolific contamination than usual in the imported poinsettia plant material. Production of poinsettias from cuttings starts in the summer.

Tobacco whitefly is a quarantine pest under the Phytosanitary Act. In Finland it has been found mainly in poinsettias. Other host plants are for example cucumbers and tomatoes and many ornamental plants grown in greenhouses. The pest in question should not occur at all in plant material brought to Finland. It is an insect that is about 1.5 mm long and absorbs nutrition from the leaves of the plants. In addition to the absorption damage, it can spread plant viruses. The pest does not occur permanently in Finland.

The number of findings of tobacco whitefly has increased in the last few years. In 2006 – 2007 there were 50 findings each year, which is clearly more than in the years before that.

It would appear that there will be many cases of tobacco whitefly in poinsettia production this year. The plant protection inspectors of Evira and the TE-Centres are currently monitoring poinsettia cultivations. Where the tobacco whitefly is found in cultivations, a control decision will be given which will define the measures to be taken in order to eradicate the pest. The goal is to prevent its permanent establishment in the production units with the help of inspections and control.

The tobacco whitefly does not problems for the buyers of finished poinsettias as the tobacco whitefly will have been controlled before the plants are sold to the consumers.

For additional information, please contact:
Deputy Director Raija Valtonen, Evira, tel. +358 2077 25040
Senior Officer Salla Hannunen, Evira, +358 2077 25072

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