Diversifying Citrus Pest Management

Ernie NeffPests

Asian citrus psyllids

The use of chemicals for HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) and other pests has raised several concerns, Jawwad Qureshi reported in a virtual Florida Citrus Growers Institute presentation. Those concerns include pest resistance, costs and diminishing biological control of pests, as well as concerns about health and the environment.

Qureshi, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist, said other pests that growers control with chemicals include scales, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, stink bugs, leafminers, rust mites, spider mites, thrips, fruit flies and weevils.

In a presentation titled “Strengthening and Diversifying Citrus Pest Management,” Qureshi focused on the use of integrated pest management, which includes non-chemical control of pests. Non-chemical controls include individual protective covers (IPCs) and citrus under protective screen (CUPS).

IPC trials that Qureshi has been involved in have been successful in preventing ACP and HLB in young trees. However, other pests do get inside the IPCs, so growers should monitor for pests regularly, he said.

CUPS have generally been effective at excluding ACP, but “there is always a chance at moving insects into these structures with human or equipment movement,” Qureshi stated. He added that weather damage can expose CUPS to ACP infestation. ACP did enter some CUPS as a result of damage the structures incurred during Hurricane Irma in 2017, he reported.

Conclusions from Qureshi’s presentation include:

  • Significant effects of organic insecticides with 435 oil on ACP control and yield indicate potential use in all citrus.
  • Conventional growers will have the option of diversifying their programs by including organic insecticides.
  • CUPS and IPCs provide significant control of ACP/HLB.
  • Successful integrated area-wide citrus pest management requires use of all available tools and monitoring for existing and new threats.

See Qureshi’s full presentation here.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large