Pests on the Horizon

Ernie NeffPests

Lauren Diepenbrock, left, helps growers and others at a Citrus Insect Management Workshop identify pests.

A shift toward reduced use of insecticides in Florida groves could lead to the emergence of pests that haven’t generally been a problem for years, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock said. Pests that could return or emerge in the face of reduced insecticide use include scales, mealybugs, false spider mites and fruit flies.

Diepenbrock suggested that growers monitor for pests so they can target problematic insect populations and determine acceptable levels of pest damage for their groves. “Only treat when necessary,” she added, explaining that frequent application of broad-spectrum materials adversely impacts beneficial insects. She urged growers to contact her or other UF/IFAS scientists for help in identifying insects and creating an insect management plan.

Diepenbrock made her remarks at a Citrus Insect Management Workshop at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida. Approximately 50 growers and others attended the session. In addition to hearing numerous speakers discuss insect control, attendees participated in hands-on exercises to help them identify pests of Florida citrus.

Soon after HLB was discovered in Florida in 2005 and quickly spread, most growers greatly increased their use of insecticides to kill HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids. In recent years, however, many have reduced their insecticide use in order to afford bactericides and nutrients they hope will help trees better cope with HLB.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large