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How safe is the enemy of a citrus-threatening pest?
Date:2/4/2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) can spread the lethal and incurable citrus disease known as huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening that threatens the multi-billion dollar global citrus industry. In Southern California, large and widespread populations of ACP have been detected in several counties, having arrived, most likely, from Mexico where ACP is widely established.

In 2011, for the first time entomologists at the University of California, Riverside released Tamarixia radiata, a wasp that is the natural enemy of the ACP, in a citrus grove in Riverside to help control the psyllid. But is this wasp safe to use? Does its introduction pose any risk to the environment?

Results from Federally mandated tests performed at the University of California, Riverside now show that Tamarixia radiata is indeed safe for the environment and poses no undue risk to other insects, humans or pets.

"Our work demonstrates that Tamarixia radiata is very specific to the target it is being released to kill the nymphs of the Asian citrus psyllid in this case," said Mark Hoddle, the director of the Center for Invasive Species Research, whose lab performed the tests.

Study results appear in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Safety testing in biological control is important as the release of natural enemies may pose some type of environmental risk. In this instance, Tamarixia radiata were imported from the Punjab region of Pakistan, and tested for safety in quarantine at UCR over an 18 month
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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