Erik Wenninger
    Potato Psyllids Have Returned to Magic Valley, Idaho

    Or maybe they just never went away. Psyllids, a tiny insect that can damage potatoes, might be hardier than some people originally thought.

    Two adult psyllids were found on Magic Valley potato fields in late March, said Erik Wenninger, assistant professor of entomology for the University of Idaho’s Kimberly Research and Extension Center.

    Previously officials did not know of the insects’ wintering habits.

    Wenninger said UI plans to expand its psyllids research this summer. Yellow sticky cards, something that attract the insects, will be placed on more than 100 potato fields across the state. Last year, 15 fields were monitored.

    “That will allow us to get a much better idea of the distribution and abundance of psyllids,” he said. “Last year we found the first psyllids in June. We want to get sampling done before then so we know when they first show up.”

    The program is funded, in part, by the Idaho Potato Commission, which also taps into other sources of funding for the program, according to Patrick Kole, vice president of legal and government affairs at the Idaho Potato Commission.

    Wenninger said while the recent find of psyllids is disheartening to farmers, there still are a lot of unknowns about psyllids.

    “I don’t think anyone should get too concerned at the moment,” he said. “We still have a lot more to learn about the over-wintering of psyllids. We’ll continue to keep an eye on it.”