Sources of HLB-Spreading Psyllids

Ernie NeffPsyllids


Asian citrus psyllid adults feeding on citrus. Photo by Tyler Jones.

The origin of HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids found in citrus groves is regarded differently in Texas and California than it is in Florida. Michael Rogers, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist and director of the Citrus Research and Education Center, explains.

“Areas like Texas and California, their focus has been on combating psyllids in the urban areas,” Rogers says. “They’ve identified most of the psyllid movement in the commercial groves (as) coming from dooryard trees. So a lot of their focus has been on controlling citrus psyllids in the dooryard.

“However, if you look at Florida, our situation is a little bit different. We have a lot of either abandoned groves or groves that receive minimal management. And when those groves continue to flush, there’s actually a lot more trees in those situations that are potentially producing psyllids. And so the risk for us (in Florida) is much greater coming from those abandoned or minimal-managed groves compared to dooryard trees.”

HLB was detected in Florida in 2005, a few years before it was found in Texas and California, and the disease has been much more devastating to Florida groves than to groves in other states. Although scientists and growers have fought to control the HLB problem in Florida in numerous ways, most still seem to agree that controlling the HLB-spreading psyllids is essential. Recently, however, some growers have been debating how much psyllid control is needed as they struggle to stay profitable in the face of greatly reduced yields and increased production costs.

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Tacy Callies

Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine