Spotlight on Asian Citrus Psyllid
The Asian citrus psyllid is garnering a lot of attention lately, largely because it spreads a serious disease called citrus greening disease or huanglonbing.
The insect itself is a fairly important pest on citrus. It is native to Southwest Asia and introduced to the United States in 1998 and in California in 2008. They are smaller, brownish insects that are fairly hard to spot until they begin to do damage. The adults lay eggs on citrus leaves and when the young hatch they feed on the leaves, exuding a sticky substance called honeydew. This sticky mess on a citrus plant is often the first noticeable problem. Leaves will turn a pale green, with twig dieback and lead to small, underdeveloped fruit if not controlled.
However, recently a serious disease that is spread by this insect has been found in California and it threatens the entire citrus industry in the state. Some of these insects (not all) carry bacteria that cause this disease and spread it when they lay eggs or feed on the tree. The disease is fatal to the tree and there is no current effective cure. It does not harm humans but if a tree is infected the only solution is to remove and destroy the tree, then create a quarantine area and scout for any affect’s citrus nearby. Most of the affected counties have programs that do just that, so if found, cooperating with the local county Ag Commissioner is an important step that we help out with. More information on the disease can be found at californiacitrusthreat.org.
If left unattended, the insect itself may eventually cause decline and death of a citrus, so corrected the problem is important. But with the introduction of this disease issue, preventing the spread of Asian citrus Psyllid is even more important. We recommend preventative treatments on a regular basis to reduce the population of the insect in residential area, as well as regular scouting for the insect to be sure it is not spreading to other regions of the state. If you are concerned about your citrus trees, please contact your Arborwell Arborist for an evaluation today.