Fire Ant Control Aids Psyllid Management

Jim Rogers Citrus Expo, HLB Management, Pests

Controlling fire ants in groves aids in the control of HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids (ACP), entomologist Lukasz Stelinski reported at the Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo. Fire ant control was just one way that Stelinski suggested for growers to manage ACP while reducing costs.

fire ant
Imported fire ant (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine Archive, Bugwood.org)

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist said ACP populations drop when fire ants are removed. Trees treated with Tanglefoot insect barrier had significantly fewer adult ACPs than untreated control trees, Stelinski said.

Stelinski added that ACP nymphs also are reduced with fire ant control. He said that the mean number of ACP nymphs in Tanglefoot-treated trees was significantly lower than in ant-infested trees.

Additionally, natural ACP enemy densities increase when fire ants are controlled, Stelinski reported. He said that lady beetles, spiders and Tamarixia radiata wasps are more abundant in trees without ants.

Stelinski said 0.2 psyllids per tap sample in the grove is an effective ballpark threshold signaling the need to spray for ACP in most situations. Reducing ACP sprays from eight to as few as three per year using thresholds had little effect on ACP counts, he said.

Pest management input costs are reduced under economic thresholds compared to monthly calendar-based sprays, he added. Overall, savings of more than 100% can occur using the economic threshold, Stelinski said, adding that those savings can counter possible yield loss. 

Growers should also utilize well-timed dormant season sprays to reduce ACP management costs, the entomologist stated.

Other information Stelinski provided included:

  • Timing insecticide applications with bud break resulted in better ACP suppression.
  • Maintaining ACP populations below a threshold of one ACP per tap was associated with better yield. 

See Stelinski’s full Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo presentation in PDF format here.

About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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