Explore the information available from UF/IFAS using biological controls for Asian citrus psyllids in Florida citrus groves.
Asian citrus psyllids are in the crosshairs of researchers and Florida citrus growers looking to control citrus greening in Florida citrus groves. Asian citrus psyllids are the miniscule insects that spread the bacteria that cause citrus greening. Biological controls, such as insects that prey on Asian citrus psyllids during different points in their life cycles, have been studied as an avenue for reducing psyllid populations, according to a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.
Biological Controls for Asian Citrus Psyllids
The biological controls for Asian citrus psyllids (ACPs) are divided into predators, parasitoids, and entomopathogens.
Predators. Predators of Asian citrus psyllids include ladybeetles, lacewings, syrphid flies and spiders, and they feed mainly on ACP nymphs. These predators are negatively impacted by the insecticides used to target ACP populations. Commercially available predators include convergent ladybeetle, two-spotted ladybeetle, brown lacewings, and a predatory mite, Amblyseius swirskii.
Parasitoids. According to the article, “Tamarixia radiata is the primary species-specific parasitoid of psyllid nymphs.” They lay eggs on the ACP nymphs, and the larvae eat and kill the nymphs. They are also susceptible to insecticides, making them best suited to organic operations. There is a mass-rearing facility providing T. radiata to citrus growers using organic and conventional management programs.
Entomopathogens. Entomopathogenic fungi like Hirsutella citriformis attack adult psyllids, with and average mortality rate of 23 to 75 percent observed in the field, according to the article.
The article advises growers to use “selective insecticide approaches” to protect biological controls that target ACP populations, such as using an “application of soil-applied systemic insecticides that avoid direct contact with natural enemies” and/or using “foliar sprays of insecticides directed mainly at adult psyllids, which are more vulnerable during winter when trees are producing little or no new growth which limits ACP reproduction.”
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