Few pests pose a more daunting threat to citrus than the tiny Asian Citrus Psyllid, a potential carrier of a disease that could ravage the citrus industry and wipe out home garden citrus. Because it can spread the bacterial disease Huanglongbing, otherwise known as HLB or citrus greening disease, this insect has sparked intensive quarantine and eradication efforts in almost all citrus growing areas.
The aphid-like Asian Citrus Psyllid is about 1/6 inch long with a tan-and-brown body, light-brown head, red eyes and mottled brown wings. When feeding, it raises its posterior end at a 45-degree angle. Nymphs are orangish-brown and excrete white, waxy tubules. Eggs are bright yellowish-orange.
Nymphs and adults feed on new shoots of citrus, releasing a toxin that causes dieback and leaf contortion. But its greatest danger is the pest's ability to spread the bacterial disease HLB. Once infected, a citrus tree turns yellow, produces hard, bitter-tasting fruit and dies in as soon as three to five years. There is no cure for infected trees.
All citrus growing states, including California, Florida, Arizona and Texas, have quarantines in place restricting the movement of citrus plants, plant parts and sometimes fruit, in an attempt to control ACP and HLB.
Similar or Related Diseases
Throughout the world the disease has many names, including Huanglongbing, HLB, citrus greening disease, yellow shoot disease and yellow dragon disease.
It's very important to inspect citrus trees frequently and collect samples of any suspected Asian Citrus Psyllids or HLB damage. Put the sample in a plastic storage bag and contact county officials at the websites below. Homeowners play a very important role in controlling this devastating disease.
- Only buy citrus trees from reputable, licensed nurseries.
- Don't move citrus fruit or plants into or across state or quarantine lines. Consume your harvest on your property.
- Cooperate with agriculture officials working to monitor and eradicate this threat.
- Dry or double-bag plant clippings before disposal.
Protect your trees against Asian Citrus Psyllid and help prevent HLB with foliar sprays and/or systemic insecticide soil drench applied according to label instructions.