Be on the lookout for entomopathogenic fungi, or “friendly” fungi that look worrisome but are beneficial for citrus groves.

There are two entomopathogenic fungi that you might encounter in your citrus grove that look nasty but are actually beneficial for Florida citrus groves, according to a Florida Grower article. According to the article, the “friendly” fungi have been spotted in North Florida citrus groves by UF/IFAS researchers who have shared the benefits of the strange-looking fungi in the October UF/IFAS Cold Hardy Citrus Connection newsletter. Get the details on this fungi below to know what’s in your grove.

Details of the Entomopathogenic Fungi

There are two types of entomopathogenic fungi, according to the article, the red strain (Aschersonia aleyrodis) and the yellow strain (Aschersonia goldiana). They are both easy to spot due to their bright yellow and/or red spots. Both can look like “a new citrus disease or a new species of scale,” but the fungi are actually infecting whitefly populations. Whiteflies are pests that can occasionally damage citrus either through the nymphs feeding on high amounts of leaf sap or through attracting sooty mold fungi, which feeds on the nymphs’ excretions. Sooty mold fungi reduces photosynthesis in the leaves and makes the plant look unhealthy.

The red strain. A. aleyrodis, feeds on the citrus whitefly and the yellow strain, A. goldiana, feeds on the cloudywinged whitefly. According to the article, these “friendly” fungi are usually seen in Florida citrus groves in mid-August to mid-September after the rainy season.

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