May 11, 2010
May 11 - Phyllocnistis citrella
The citrus leafminer, Phyllocnistis citrella, is native to Asia, but has sadly recently invaded many important citrus-growing regions in the New World, including Florida, the Caribbean, and now southern California. These insects are moths and the female lays her eggs on the new leaves of citrus trees. The larvae bury into the leaves and create trails of damage behind them, causing the leaves to uncurl poorly. On top of that, the damage caused by the hungry little caterpillars can leave the trees vulnerable to secondary infections, including citrus canker bacteria, Xanthomonas axonopodis. What's the hope for controlling these persistent pests? Luckily, Nature has answered the call in the form of parasitoids and at least nine species of parasitoid wasps have been documents using the invasive leafminer larvae as hosts, including one that was specifically introduced from Vietnam to control P. citrella after the Florida outbreak called Ageniaspis citricola.