Study Shows Florida Residents’ Attitudes on HLB

Daniel CooperHLB Management, Research

Photo by Tonya Weeks, UF/IFAS CREC

In the fall of 2022, five University of Florida researchers investigated Florida residents’ attitudes on HLB and Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) using online surveys over a 9-month period. The results of the study, Residents’ contribution to Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening management in Florida residential habitats, was recently published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management.

Authors Romain Exilien, Laura Warner, Lauren Diepenbrock, Danielle Williams and Xavier Martini stated that the study provides valuable insights for improving backyard Extension strategies tailored to the needs and willingness of residents to manage ACP and HLB.

The survey gathered information on citrus grown in backyards and on the detection of ACP and HLB, as well as the management strategies used (or ready to be implemented) to control them. The authors recorded 529 responses, 218 from areas where HLB is endemic (South and Central Florida) and 311 from areas where HLB and ACP are still rare (North Florida).

In the HLB area, the amount of citrus grown was significantly reduced, and residents were more active in controlling ACP and HLB. Most residents were able to identify an adult psyllid from a photo, but only 5% reported having seen it on their trees, in most cases in areas with high HLB incidence.

The results also revealed residents’ interest in managing ACP and HLB, as well as their willingness to participate in the search for integrated solutions to tackle ACP and HLB in urban habitats.

Seventy-six percent of responders agreed to remove HLB trees from their backyard. This figure went up to 82% if compensation was offered.

According to the article, residents have gained knowledge in citrus care primarily through University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension programs. This may be due to the initial distribution of the survey through UF/IFAS Extension agents.

Residents paid more attention to citrus care practices, which can have direct impact on the growth and production of their trees, than to pest and disease control. However, many considered pests and diseases to be the main culprits in citrus yield decline. Residents’ behavior suggests that they have less interest in controlling pests and diseases if their trees continue to produce fruit.

Source: Journal of Integrated Pest Management

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