Very 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 commercial citrus industry and wipe out home garden citrus. Because it can spread the bacterial disease Huanglongbing, otherwise known as HLB or citrus greening disease, Asian Citrus Psyllid has sparked intensive quarantine and eradication efforts in almost all citrus growing areas.
Aphid-like in appearance, the 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 rear end at a 45-degree angle. Nymphs are orangish-brown and produce distinctive white, waxy tubules. Tiny eggs are bright yellowish-orange.
Damage From Asian Citrus Psyllids
Nymphs and adults feed on new growth of citrus, releasing a toxin that causes dieback and distorted leaves. But its greatest danger is the pest's ability to spread the devastating bacterial disease HLB. Once infected, a citrus tree’s foliage turns yellow, it produces hard, bitter-tasting fruit and dies in as quickly as three to five years. There is no cure for trees infected with this disease.
Where Asian Citrus Psyllids are Found Geographically
All states where citrus can be grown, 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.
Related or Similar Diseases
Worldwide, 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 through the websites below. Homeowners play a very important role in controlling this devastating disease:
- Buy citrus trees only from reputable, licensed nurseries.
- Don't Transport citrus fruit or plants into or across state or quarantine lines. Consume your fruit on your property.
- Cooperate with agriculture officials working to monitor and eradicate this devastating threat.
- Dry or double-bag plant prunings before disposal.