Sterile Insect Technique Shows Promise Against Asian Citrus Psyllid

By Andrew Porterfield | Entomology Today |

ENTOMOLOGY TODAY - The Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) has been identified on every continent except Antarctica and Australia. It is known for spreading the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, which causes citrus greening disease (also known as Huanglongbing).

Citrus greening is one of the most serious citrus diseases in the world. Infected trees produce immature (and unmarketable) fruits and die within five to 10 years. In the U.S., it was discovered in Florida in 1998 and is now found in virtually every citrus-producing state (Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Alabama, California, South Carolina, and Texas).

No known treatments exist for citrus greening. In places like California, where the psyllid is not yet established in orchards, area-wide applications of insecticides are used. But cost, insecticide resistance, and integrated pest management (IPM) programs are discouraging the use of these agricultural chemicals. So, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the University of California, Riverside, turned to sterile insect technique as a possible alternative way to control D. citri and, in turn, reduce the spread of citrus greening. Their results, published in May in the Journal of Economic Entomology, show that sterilizing X-rays had a significant impact on fertility, survival, and fecundity of the Asian citrus psyllid.

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