Attract-and-Kill Device Being Developed for Psyllids

psyllids

Lukasz Stelinski

Numerous researchers have collaborated on an attract-and-kill device that will hopefully eliminate psyllids in confined spaces, such as nurseries and citrus under protective screen (CUPS). University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) entomologist Lukasz Stelinski reports on a presentation he made Oct. 25 at a citrus nursery workshop in Lake Alfred.

Stelinski says researchers with UF/IFAS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have collaborated for two years on the device with scientists in Texas and California. “We have a prototype that is very much functional that’s being evaluated in the field now,” he says.

The researchers have developed effective smell, taste and visual attractants to lure the psyllids to the device, Stelinski says.

“This device is meant to attract psyllids and eliminate them, because when they land on the device they pick up a small amount of a toxicant that they ingest,” Stelinski says. “We envision it to potentially be effective in numerous scenarios,” especially citrus nurseries and CUPS. “These are places where broad-spectrum sprays are sometimes more difficult to apply. Also, they have an enclosed and limited psyllid population. In such enclosed spaces, we’ve now demonstrated in numerous experiments that we can kill off the existing psyllid population very effectively, even in cases when we deploy these devices in the presence of citrus.” He says psyllid populations are killed within four to six days.

Psyllids are the vector of HLB disease, which has devastated Florida citrus for the past dozen years.

 

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large