Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Extension Office releases wasps to combat Citrus Greening Disease

 The Franklin County Extension office recently released some very small wasps in the county to help combat Citrus Greening Disease.

Citrus greening disease is bacterial disease that slowly weakens and kills all types of citrus trees and causes fruit to become lopsided and taste bitter, making it unusable.

There is no known cure for the disease, but there is a way to kill off the bug that spreads the disease.

Citrus Greening Disease is spread by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllids and a successful method of controlling the psyllids is to release a tiny non-stinging wasp which is a natural enemy of the psyllids.

On June the 26th, four vials containing about 100 wasps each were released in areas between Apalachicola and Carrabelle where citrus greening disease has been found.

The parasitic wasp lays its eggs inside the larvae of the psyllids and when the eggs hatch, new wasps emerge and kill the host as they exit.

The wasp has proved successful in controlling the spread of citrus greening in other areas and does not affect any other species than the Asian citrus psyllids.

Extension Director Erik Lovestrand said the wasps will remain as long as they have psyllids to lay their eggs in, and will die off once the psyllid population is eradicated.