The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging

citrus psyllid closeup
An extreme close-up of HLB’s vaunted vector, the citrus psyllid.
Photo by Jeffrey W. Lotz

There has been plenty of talk about how high psyllid populations have been in Florida in the past year or so, and data collected by the state bears those stories out, showing historical highs for the pest. As the 2017 psyllid season kicks into full gear, growers hope populations return to more normal patterns.

“The psyllid counts throughout the summer we very high pretty much everywhere you looked,” says Brandon Page, Citrus Health Management Areas (CHMAs) Program Assistant for UF/IFAS. “If you follow population trends, the psyllids have followed historical data where they spike in the summer then start working their way down in the winter. But, for the better part of year, the pest was at record levels.”

Perfect Storm

There were multiple factors that could attribute to the historically high psyllid counts last season. Weather was a big factor with the record-breaking rainfall during the traditional winter dry season brought on by El Niño.

“In 2015, we saw pretty high populations of psyllids, and that was followed by a really wet winter in 2016,” says Dr. Lukasz Stelinski, an Associate Professor of entomology and nematology for UF/IFAS. “So, we had a high population going into the spring and a lot of growth on the trees because of the extremely wet winter.”

Stelinski says the flush and bloom in the spring was the perfect environment for the pest to thrive and procreate. With a particularly dry winter in 2017, he says the hope would be that psyllid populations would be lower since conditions were not as ripe for the pest to proliferate.

The wet weather in 2016 might also have impacted the residual control of pesticide applications on the psyllid. “If you went out with an application in the morning, then have a 2-inch rain in the afternoon, that would definitely be detrimental to efficacy.”

Another potential factor exacerbating psyllid populations is a symptom of HLB-infected groves. Groves tend to have some level of flush year-round, which gives the pest the ability to survive through what historically would have been slower periods.

Abandoned or poorly managed groves are a constant breeding ground for the pest as well. Those psyllids can move into groves where growers are trying to manage the menace.

“Psyllids can routinely move for at least a mile,” Stelinski says. “When they do these jumps, they can use alternative hosts for brief amounts of time to remain hydrated and perhaps consume some sugar resources so they can travel further. If you have a neighbor a couple of miles away that is not controlling the psyllid or is doing the bare minimum, you are in trouble, especially in the spring when the pest is moving about more.”

Other factors include when psyllids are at their worst during bloom, the use of some key pesticides is not allowed by label restrictions to protect foraging bees. Finally, economics might be driving some growers to make fewer applications.

“With the economic situation for many growers, you have people not spraying as much as they used to,” says Henry Yonce, Owner of consulting firm KAC Agricultural Research. “Some growers can’t afford to. It is a catch 22. You have less sprays overall and groves flushing year-round with the temperatures we have. We are not zeroing the psyllids out at any time.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging

Insect & Disease Update Stories
Citrus
August 18, 2017
Bayer Aims Research Prowess at Defeating Citrus Greening
Company enters collaboration with Citrus Research and Development Foundation to uncover antibacterial and plant defense tools against the disease. Read More
Citrus
August 1, 2017
HLB Detected in California’s Historic Home of Citrus
Riverside County has a storied history of citrus production and is home to California Citrus State Historic Park, which preserves the cultural landscape of the citrus industry. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 21, 2017
University of California Launches Website to Update Growers on Citrus Research
Easy-to-read format designed to give growers up-to-date information on huanglongbing and Asian citrus psyllid research. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 10, 2017
Value of Bactericides Under Florida Citrus Sector’s Microscope
Preliminary results of the unique HLB management method indicate many factors left to consider. Read More
Citrus
June 27, 2017
Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference Takes Aim at HLB
Education program focuses on managing the disease with available tools and tactics. Read More
Citrus greening and psyllids
Insect & Disease Update
June 21, 2017
First Case of Deadly Citrus Disease Confirmed in Alabama
State agriculture officials taking action to assess and stop the spread of HLB.  Read More
Jellyfish genes causing citrus phloem to glow
Citrus
May 30, 2017
Devastating Citrus Disease Found in Orange County, California
HLB detected in plant material from residential neighborhood. Quarantine expanded. Read More
Bee Vectoring Technologies experimental hives
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Insects (Bad and Good) Make for Interesting Field Trips
Disease-fighting bees and the deadly citrus psyllid were at the center of two recent, research-fueled out-of-office adventures. Read More
inspecting citrus greening leaves
Insect & Disease Update
May 3, 2017
Big Bucks Booster for Citrus Research in Spending Bill
Funding would be used to fight HLB and explore methods for a cure. Read More
Citrus
April 17, 2017
Natural Enemies for Asian Citrus Psyllid
The eventual spread of Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, to commercial groves in California seems inevitable. But the devastation seen Read More
Citrus
April 12, 2017
Florida Company Seeks Approval of Novel Approach to Fight Citrus Greening
USDA prepares impact statement on technology that introduces a spinach defensin protein into trees via the tristeza virus. Read More
Laboratory beakers
Citrus
April 12, 2017
USDA Announces Nearly $22 Million in HLB Research Funding
Agency has invested $57 million on the deadly citrus disease since 2014. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Rhuanito “Johnny” Soranz Ferrarezi
Insect & Disease Update
January 30, 2017
Boost in Brainpower Employed to Help Beat Citrus Greening
Newest addition to the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center team focused on helping growers manage through devastating disease. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Tips to Help Hurricane-Stressed Citrus T…
Cleaning up damage and small doses of nutrition the fastest path to helping blocks bounce back. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
September 28, 2017
Attention to Citrus Psyllid Control Crit…
Flushing trees will give HLB vector perfect breeding ground. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
August 28, 2017
California Extends Citrus Quarantine
A 94-square mile area of San Bernardino, Riverside counties now a part of state huanglongbing quarantine. Read More
Citrus
August 18, 2017
Bayer Aims Research Prowess at Defeating…
Company enters collaboration with Citrus Research and Development Foundation to uncover antibacterial and plant defense tools against the disease. Read More
Citrus
August 1, 2017
HLB Detected in California’s Historic Ho…
Riverside County has a storied history of citrus production and is home to California Citrus State Historic Park, which preserves the cultural landscape of the citrus industry. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 21, 2017
University of California Launches Websit…
Easy-to-read format designed to give growers up-to-date information on huanglongbing and Asian citrus psyllid research. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 10, 2017
Value of Bactericides Under Florida Citr…
Preliminary results of the unique HLB management method indicate many factors left to consider. Read More
Citrus
June 27, 2017
Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conferenc…
Education program focuses on managing the disease with available tools and tactics. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
June 21, 2017
First Case of Deadly Citrus Disease Conf…
State agriculture officials taking action to assess and stop the spread of HLB.  Read More
Insect & Disease Update
June 15, 2017
How Scientists Are Defeating the Citrus …
RNAi technology aims to take out HLB vector. Read More
Citrus
May 30, 2017
Devastating Citrus Disease Found in Oran…
HLB detected in plant material from residential neighborhood. Quarantine expanded. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Insects (Bad and Good) Make for Interest…
Disease-fighting bees and the deadly citrus psyllid were at the center of two recent, research-fueled out-of-office adventures. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
May 3, 2017
Big Bucks Booster for Citrus Research in…
Funding would be used to fight HLB and explore methods for a cure. Read More
Citrus
April 17, 2017
Natural Enemies for Asian Citrus Psyllid
The eventual spread of Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, to commercial groves in California seems inevitable. But the devastation seen Read More
Citrus
April 12, 2017
Florida Company Seeks Approval of Novel …
USDA prepares impact statement on technology that introduces a spinach defensin protein into trees via the tristeza virus. Read More
Citrus
April 12, 2017
USDA Announces Nearly $22 Million in HLB…
Agency has invested $57 million on the deadly citrus disease since 2014. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 30, 2017
Boost in Brainpower Employed to Help Bea…
Newest addition to the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center team focused on helping growers manage through devastating disease. Read More