Anandasankar Ray, professor in the Department of Entomology at UCR, along with two other researchers, published results recently that Ray believes are promising enough they may soon be adapted for grower use.
Ray and his team tested three attractant odors in El Monte backyards using yellow sticky traps. More than twice the number of psyllids were found in the scented traps compared to unscented traps, the article said. In time the researchers will also test chemicals that can mask odors that are pleasant to Asian citrus psyllids and some that repel the insects.
Other research projects underway at UC Riverside to combat Asian citrus psyllid and the disease it can spread were also noted in the Press-Enterprise article. They are: biological controls, including a tiny wasp imported from Pakistan that feeds on the psyllids; insecticides; developing resistant strains of citrus trees; finding a way to kill the bacteria spread by psyllids once it is in the tree; and discovering ways to identify diseased trees earlier.
Yesterday, the Farm Bureau of Ventura County hosted a meeting where the California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee updated the community on efforts to control the devastating citrus pest. In addition to the residential releases of the imported natural enemy of ACP – known as Tamarixia radiata – the state is also preparing to invite organic commercial producers to request releases in their groves.
“We have referred one grower in the Bardsdale area, where an ACP population unfortunately appears to have become well established,” said John Krist, chief executive officer of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County.
The research effort is led by Mark Hoddle, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside. The UC Hansen Fund provided nearly $53,000 to Hoddle to fund work on biological control of ACP.
“The work Hansen funded will play a key role in the ACP suppression program throughout California, and it will become integral to the IPM program for commercial operations that Ventura County pioneered,” Krist said.
According to the LA Times article, USDA said it would set aside $1.5 million to scale up breeding and release efforts in California, Texas and Florida. An additional $125 million appropriated by Congress will be spent over the next five years to fund research into other methods to contain the spread of the disease.
"I think it's an excellent idea," Hoddle said.
The expansion will allow the California Department of Food and Agriculture to ramp up the scale of the breeding program.
Tiny 'vampire' wasps take on invasive citrus psyllid
Sanden Totten, Southern California Public Radio KPCC 89.3
Fighting Bugs with Bugs: Hatching A Solution for Troubled Trees
Steven Jackson, The Salt - What's on Your Plate, NPR
They've established a quarantine zone within a five-mile radius of the ACP find and monitoring has been stepped up in the area. Officials are concerned because of the psyllid's ability to spread huanglongbing disease, should the disease make its way into California. (So far, only one backyard tree has been found in California infected with huanglongbing.)
“If you don't have a vector like a psyllid, no big deal, but when you have a vector alive and moving around, then you have a big problem,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside.
The psyllid is established in some areas of Southern California and has been found in commercial orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, where an eradication plan is underway. In San Luis Obispo County, the main focus is on residential areas.
“It's so tiny that people don't even know they have it,” Grafton-Cardwell said. “It's very difficult to completely eradicate it because 60 percent of California [residences] have a citrus tree in their yard, so it can hop, skip, and jump.”
Comprehensive information about Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease is available on the UC ACP/HLB Distribution and Management website.
"It was incredible," said Fresno County entomologist Gene Hannon. "There were easily a dozen on just one small leaf."
Previous finds in the Valley numbered from one to three on yellow sticky traps in the Tulare County communities of Lindsay, Strathmore and Terra Bella.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, said the number of psyllids in Dinuba means there is a reproducing population.
"And when that happens, we are off and running to getting an established population in the San Joaquin Valley," she said.
Grafton-Cardwell has worked with a team of UC researchers to provide detailed and scientifically sound guidelines for treating farm- and home-grown citrus infested with Asian citrus psyllid on a new UC Cooperative Extension website, http://ucanr.edu/sites/acp.
The website advises farmers and homeowners to regularly conduct visual surveys for Asian citrus psyllid and tap sample (see video) trees in their orchards.
“This is very surprising and very disappointing,” said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual in Exeter.
This was the third ACP find in Tulare County this year. An Asian citrus psyllid was discovered in Wasco, Kern County, last week.
The Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner, CDFA and USDA are conducting an extensive survey and treatment program in response to the new detection of ACP in Dinuba, according to a press release. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, wrote in her Citrus Bugs Blog that because all stages of the pest were found around the trees in Dinuba they were likely infested when they were planted.
"This situation points out the need to educate everyone that they must never move plant material from ACP-infested areas that are under quarantine to areas such as the San Joaquin Valley where the pest has not yet established," Grafton-Cardwell wrote.
Yesterday Valley Public Radio broadcast a 5-minute overview of Asian citrus psyllid with comments from Grafton-Cardwell.
"This is not just a commercial problem, but a homeowner problem because 60 percent of Californians have at least one citrus tree in their yard," Grafton-Cardwell said.
California Assemblyman Jim Patterson hosted an Asian citrus psyllid townhall meeting in Fresno in August. At the event, Grafton-Caldwell said it is vital to slow the spread of psyllid to new areas.
Along with conventional pesticide sprays, organic products have been tried to prevent spread of Asian citrus psyllid. However, the usefulness of the methods has come into question.
“We struggle with organics,” Grafton-Caldwell said, regarding organic sprays and powders. “They are short-lived and have to make direct contact with the psyllid. They are only good for hours or days and not for months.”
Information on monitoring for and treating Asian citrus psyllid and the disease it spreads is available online.