A psyllid, perhaps new to the Western Hemisphere and that causes a distinctive, tight, typically complete leaf rolling , has been found on Ficus microcarpa (Chinese banyan, Indian laurel fig) in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Diego,and Riverside counties.
So far we have observed the FLRP only on Ficus microcarpa. Damage is fairly obvious and unusually conspicuous on heavily infested trees. Leaves at the branch and twig tips are tightly and typically completely rolled into a narrow cylinder. One rolled margin eventually overtakes the other, actually forming a cylinder with two tubes. In some instances only one margin rolls, in which case the rolling stops at the leaf blade midrib. The rolled leaf is brittle and remains green throughout
The rolled leaves could be mistaken initially for damage from Gynaikothrips ficorum (the Cuban laurel thrips). However, careful observation will quickly show the distinct difference between the rolled leaf (cause by the FLRP) and folded leaf (caused by Cuban laurel thrips). Indeed, the FLRPs shape the leaf to look more like the Mexican food taquito (tightly rolled tortilla) while the Cuban laurel thrips cause the leaf to look more like a taco (folded tortilla).
Because the FLRP is likely a new arrival, we know nothing about its long-term impact on tree health. If damage is mostly restricted to few or several leaves, long-term health would likely not be significantly affected; in such cases it could be considered simply a nuisance esthetic issue. On the other hand, if most or every new leaf is infested and rolled, as it appears it is going to be on at least one of the trees we saw, esthetic damage would be significant and tree health would likely decline because of reduced photosynthesis.
The FLRP appears to be nearly exclusively attracted to the newest developing leaves, which are softer, more pliable, and easier to roll, rather than simply the leaves' position on the canopy periphery where they would be first encountered. If further study shows this observation to be true, it will impact how this pest can be managed culturally and mechanically.
To see the entire article with photos and more details go to
If you see this kind of damage, please let one of the authors know as we are trying to describe its current range in California.