A ladybird that can control a serious pest of tomatoes and potatoes is to be released onto an organic potato crop for its first field trial.
The southern ladybird is being released in the Canterbury potato field by scientists at Lincoln University's Bio-Protection Research Centre. They have found it to be effective in reducing tomato-potato psyllid numbers in glasshouse trials.
Some growers have seen their tomato and potato crops seriously depleted by the tiny sap-sucking pest.
The psyllid has also caused heavy losses in capsicum, eggplant and tamarillo crops where it feeds on the leaves, transmitting a harmful bacterium to the plants.