As reported in the April 4 edition of GPN Weekly, Q Biotype whiteflies, a highly resistant strain of whitefly that is indistinguishable from silverleaf whitefly, were found on poinsettias at a retail outlet in Arizona. The suspect plant was traced back to a nursery in California, and after testing Q Biotype whitefly was confirmed at the nursery, according to Nolan Lemon, APHIS spokesperson. We have heard that that nursery is now quarantined but could not confirm that it is unable to ship anything. We did, however, confirm that The Arizona Department of Agriculture has restricted importation of plant product coming from that nursery.
GPN obtained the executive order from the Arizona Department of Agriculture regarding this restriction. It states, “This Order is issued to mitigate an immediate risk of infestation of the whitefly known as Bemisia tabaci Biotype Q from any infested California facility. Bemisia tabaci Biotype Q is not known to occur in the United States except in a limited area in California.”
The executive order also states that the area under quarantine is “The entire State of California.” We were confused by the confliction and were under the assumption that only one nursery in California was banned from shipping to Arizona, so we called John Caravetta, associate director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. “There is only one [nursery right now]. This [order] provides balance and flexibility in that if other operations are further determined through the survey process to have an infestation then those operations would automatically be excluded from Arizona from shipping plant material…at this time with as little as what is known of the presence of this particular pest and the potentially devastating nature of it not only to Arizona and various agricultural and horticultural interests, it’s also an issue for any state that has cotton production, produce production, horticultural plants or greenhouse facilities.”
Lemon informed us that APHIS, as of right now, is not testing any nurseries in California for the Q Biotype whitefly, but the California Department of Food and Agriculture may be. We, of course, are dedicated to giving you the most up-to-date information and will be updating you on this story in future issues of GPN Weekly as well as GPN.