A TINY moth with the potential to devastate banana crops is one of the pests biosecurity inspectors will be looking out for during a survey in far north Queensland. The banana skipper has a wingspan of just 3.5cm but its larvae can significantly lessen banana yields, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry says.

The caterpillars munch on the fruit’s leaves, causing delayed ripening and lighter bunches. The team of inspectors will also be on the lookout for plant diseases such as black sigatoka and panama during their survey of Cape York next week. The fungal diseases attack the leaves of fruit trees and cause inferior crops.

Inspectors will travel between Coen and Weipa and focus on banana, mango and citrus pests. They will also inspect backyard plants. Senior operations officer Kevin Leutton said they would be asking for access to private properties. They would also inspect south-bound vehicles to ensure no fruit or vegetables were carried out of the Cape York peninsula quarantine area.