The African psyllid pest has been devastating citrus crops since the early 2000s in the Canary Islands and the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a flying insect that can cause leaf clumping, hinder photosynthesis that reduces the yield of lemons, among others. The African psyllid treatment it is not easy at all.
In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about plague and the treatment of African psyllid.
What is African psyllid
Its effect on citrus fruits and ornamental shrubs is twofold:
- direct damage: Clumps of leaves, deformation, hinders or interferes with photosynthesis in citrus fruits; reduce the yield of lemon or healthy fruit.
- consequential damages: Spread of citrus diseases: HLB (Huanglongbing) or greening, leading to tree death.
The African psyllid is a flying insect of the order Hemiptera of the family Psyllidae, scientific name: Trioza erytreae. Since 2000, it has been classified as a mandatory quarantine pest by the European Union.
The continent of origin of this insect, Trioza erytreae, is Africa. From the sub-Saharan region, a continental extension that has no direct contact with the Mediterranean Sea. Madeira is the first place recognized to explain the introduction of the African psyllid in Europe. Its existence was discovered in 1994. In Spain, the known entry point for the African psyllid was established at Valle Guerra (Tenerife) in 2002.
The expansion of this insect along the Atlantic coast explains its presence in Galicia in 2014, registering several cases in Pontevedra and A Coruña.
Measures against this scourge
Among the measures that have been taken against this pest to prevent its spread, we have the following:
- Prohibits the sale of citrus fruits in Galiciaamong the measures adopted to halt the spread of Trioza erytreae.
- Between 2014 and 2015, The Galician Charter prohibited the sale of citrus fruits in nurseries and large plots.
- The European Union imposes a mandatory quarantine for this pest and during these years it should last at least 5 years.
- The Xunta de Galicia has lifted the ban on the sale of citrus fruits in 2020, although it has taken a series of measures to try to keep the trees healthy at the outlets themselves.
Effects of the pest on citrus
Citriculture or citrus growing has measured the impact of the African psylla in its plantations, from the first signs of the disease that it leaves behind.
For example, we will always refer to the state of Florida and all the production of oranges and citrus fruits in this region of the United States, which has seen a 74% reduction in production since HLB disease was first detected in 2005.
If we take the example of the direct action of Trioza erytreae on lemon trees, we understand its impact on citrus fruits and ornamental shrubs (all species of Rutaceae) which are associated with it and serve as hosts. .
Psyllids lay their eggs on the leaves of lemon trees. They usually lay their eggs on the underside of citrus leaves in a clear line parallel to the veins. However, one characteristic that we can detect in humid climates is that psyllids spread their eggs all over the underside of leaves rather than lining them parallel to the veins.
They are sucking insects that bite the dermis of leaves and feed on the sap of citrus fruits and plants. The hatching of the eggs produces the insect’s nymphs, which congregate and encase themselves in a protective capsule and begin to suck fresh sap from the leaves. These capsules are distinct warts or changes on the leaves.
All spawning African psyllid-infested citrus trees lost the ability to photosynthesize due to deformities and substantial leaf loss in the canopy.
Moreover, in a state of extreme weakness, the regrowth of new shoots requires extra effort, and year after year we observe the degradation of the tree itself, as evidenced by the loss of citrus production. However, the direct effect of African psyllid on lemon trees is not considered to be responsible for irreparable death.
African psyllid treatment
So, with a disease control schedule focused on preventative treatments, controlled pruning, and good nutrition, it’s possible for citrus fruits to go through the period of greatest psyllid activity.
We are faced with one of the easiest plant pests to identify with the naked eye. Citrus leaves are full of warts and deformities, stunted growth, galls… In addition, you will be able to see how the leaves gradually lose their green color and turn yellow.
If all of us who have an orchard or a fruit tree know it clearly, the traps against velutinas are one of the best remedies against the African wasp in our gardens and planting spaces since its reproduction is very important. So we need to take a similar approach for psyllids in citrus orchards.
Yellow plastic sticky traps are an easy solution to minimize the behavior of any flying or jumping insects; from psyllids to citrus leaf miners, through annoying aphids or whiteflies.
The chromatic trap is a treatment for African psyllid:
- 20×15cm 50 sheets.
- Suitable for psyllids, all kinds of flies and mosquitoes, and any insect that flies or jumps from one plant to another: aphids, leaf miners…
- The adhesives are resistant to humidity and high temperatures.
Thanks to the colored traps, you will be able to identify the pests that frequently occur in your crops and take preventive measures against them or resort to very topical and effective insecticide treatments.
This simple practice is used and recommended in citrus groves all over the world because it allows us to know the insects directly at all times, to capture specimens for analysis and to verify that they are carriers of bacteria. As with any other plant protection product, any insecticide treatment against African psyllid should be carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Another remedy is Aspid 50WP:
- Kills insects by contact and ingestion.
- Suitable for psyllids, leaf miners, whiteflies, caterpillars, fruit flies…
- Follow the instructions for use provided by the manufacturer.
Hopefully, with this information, you can learn more about African psyllid treatment and its characteristics.