Ants & Citrus Disease

The Asian citrus psyllid is a small insect that feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus.  The psyllid, itself, is harmless but because of it's ability to serve as a carrying agent for huanglongbing, a disease which causes, "greening", it's presence has the potential to infect and destroy California's Citrus Industry.

One of the ideas expressed in preventing the spread of this disease was brought to light this week during a two-day research summit on the Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening disease. The summit took place on Tuesday and Wednesday at UC Riverside with researchers presenting various methods to combat the spread of huanglongbing.

One of the ideas expressed, in addition to the effectiveness of Tamarixia radiata, a tiny wasp that injects its eggs into the body of the psyllid, was to eliminate the presence of ants.

According to an article posted at www.whittierdailynews.com "The wasp injects its eggs into the body of the psyllid. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae consume the psyllid from the inside out."  However, "In their larval form, the psyllids produce a sugary, sticky honeydew that the ants just love. They [ants] guard the psyllid larvae to protect this food source."

Of graver concern, Researchers found that, "When the wasps were released on trees where the ants were present, the ants attacked and consumed 95 percent of the wasps within two minutes."

Because of these results, Researches are now saying that it would be much easier to control the spread of huanglongbing if homeowners would actively begin controlling ant populations on their property.

 

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