The potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc) (Hemiptera: Triozidae), and its associated pathogen “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” (Ca. L. solanacearum), the putative causal agent of zebra chip (ZC) disease in potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.), were sampled in commercial potato fields and untreated control plots for 3 yr in multiple locations in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Populations of the potato psyllid varied across years and across potato growing regions. However, the percentage of potato psyllids infected with Ca. L. solanacearum although variable across years, was consistently highest in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (LRGV), the reported overwintering location for this pest. The numbers of Ca. L. solanacearum—infected psyllids collected on field traps and large nymphs counted on leaf samples were both positively correlated with the final percentage of ZC in tubers. In the LRGV, where vector and disease pressure is the highest, population levels of immature life stages of the psyllid and percentage of ZC differed greatly between commercial and untreated fields. These results show that the pest management program that was used can be effective at controlling development of the psyllid and ultimately reducing the incidence of ZC.
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Vol. 105 • No. 4