Potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli, vectors the bacterium associated with the devastating zebra chip disease of potato, Solanum tuberosum L., in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and New Zealand. A seasonal pattern of appearance of the psyllid in crops from southern to northern regions of the United States is well documented. Potatoes are commonly grown as winter and summer crops in southern and northern parts, respectively, of the United States. No other plant material is available for psyllids when each crop is planted, and the psyllids must migrate into each crop each season. Appearance of psyllids in potato crops commonly starts at an initial focus, often at field margins or other breaks in the canopy, such as irrigation tracks. Psyllids readily jump and fly when disturbed, providing an obvious mechanism for dispersal within a crop. Good experimental evidence also supports longer distance dispersal of potato psyllid, from tens of meters to a few kilometers, most likely by cumulative short distances between suitable host plants within a region. Seasonal infestation observations suggest annual continental-wide migration of the psyllid, although little direct experimental evidence yet exists. Mechanisms for dispersal of potato psyllid over continental distances have been proposed, largely associated with seasonal wind patterns. However, recent overwintering observations in the northern regions of its native zone in the United States and identification of geographically-defined and genetically distinct potato psyllid populations, suggest a static regional status of at least some populations. Thus, a review of migration of potato psyllid into crops is presented herein, and a new paradigm for considering overwintering strategies of potato psyllid is required.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1