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UC Riverside scientists release natural enemy of Asian citrus psyllid
Date:12/21/2011

he leaves on infected trees turn yellow, the fruit becomes bitter and eventually the tree dies. There is no known cure for citrus, and this plant disease is not a risk to people.

Huanglongbing has made its way to Mexico and Florida, but so far it has not been detected in California. Currently, the citrus industry is dependent on insecticide sprays to control ACP and prevent the introduction of Huanglongbing. Citrus entomologist Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell, an extension specialist in the Department of Entomology and the director of UC's San Joaquin Valley citrus research center, welcomes the promise of biological control with introduced natural enemies.

"This is very good news for the integrated management of Asian citrus psyllid and a highly significant contribution of the University of California," she said. "Parasitoid releases will add a new and exciting component to the management program for ACP, especially for the many homeowners who have citrus trees in their yards."

Hoddle said Tamarixia won't eradicate ACP, but scientists predict it will reduce the densities of the pest, giving other control practices a better chance of working.

"Every ACP killed by Tamarixia will be one less pest for homeowners and commercial citrus growers to worry about," he added.

Commercial citrus producers in California will still need to apply insecticides to control ACP and prevent the spread of Huanglongbing, should the disease be found in the state. However, the frequency of these applications may be reduced because Tamarixia will be killing ACP nymphs that would have otherwise grown into adults in the absence of this natural enemy.

Hoddle collected the parasites in collaboration with scientists in the Department of Agri-Entomology
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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