Three Florida Citrus Pests of Concern

Ernie Neff Pests

Cluster of lebbeck mealybugs on a young twig
(Photo by Lauren Diepenbrock, UF/IFAS)

Lebbeck mealybug, the Bulimulus sporadicus snail and Brevipalpus mite are Florida citrus pests that were discussed at Citrus Expo in August. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) entomologist Lukasz Stelinski delivered information about the three pests for fellow UF/IFAS entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock.

Lebbeck mealybug damages fruit, leaves and stems. The pest causes fruit drop and death of young trees. Fruit damaged by the pest will not be marketable for the fresh market, but the quality of juice from damaged fruit is okay if the fruit make it to harvest.

Lebbeck mealybug is in commercial groves in Central and South Florida. Early-season management with systemic materials will reduce the likelihood of fruit loss. Contact materials can work well for cleanup but will kill beneficial predators and are not “silver bullets.” In field trials, ant removal resulted in lebbeck mealybug population reductions.

Up to 50% fruit drop related to lebbeck mealybug has been documented in other countries before control was established. The amount of fruit drop will depend on infestation levels. Observed lebbeck mealybug-induced fruit drop occurs earlier than physiological fruit drop.  

The Bulimulus sporadicus snail was first found in Florida in 2009 and is recently emerging as a pest in citrus production. It damages foliage in individual protective covers (IPCs) and clogs irrigation emitters. IPCs have been used extensively on young trees in recent years to protect the trees from HLB-spreading psyllids. Laboratory work indicates topical treatments do not kill the snails, but most baits work well against the pests.

Diepenbrock described Brevipalpus mite as a “resident pest causing damage.” At high population levels, the mite can cause fruit damage. If damage is seen, mite management should be added to a grower’s program.

See Diepenbrock’s full presentation.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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