Citrus Flushing Patterns, Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) Populations and Parasitism by Tamarixia radiata (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) in Puerto Rico

Richard W. H. Pluke, Jawwad A. Qureshi, Philip A. Stansly


Discovery of citrus greening disease or Huanglongbing in Brazil and Florida has elevated the vector psyllid, Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), to key pest status in both regions. Detected in Puerto Rico within 3 years of first detection in Florida, the psyllid appeared to be relatively scarce in the Island’s limited citrus and alternate rutaceous host, orange jasmine, Murraya paniculata. Monthly surveys were conducted at 4 locations during 2004 through 2005 to evaluate citrus flushing patterns, psyllid densities, and prevalence of parasitism by Tamarixia radiata. Although low levels of D. citri are known to be established in the high, cool areas of Adjuntas, a total lack of psyllids at the particular study location was attributed to scarcity of flush except for a short period in Feb. Greatest and most prolonged production of new flush, highest psyllid numbers, and greatest incidence of parasitism occurred at Isabela, the most coastal location and the only one with irrigated citrus. Favorable climate and irrigation resulted in prolonged availability of new foliage needed to maintain populations of psyllids and consequently its parasitoid. There, apparent parasitism of late instars was estimated to average 70% and approached 100% on 3 different occasions. Tamarixia radiata also was found parasitizing psyllid nymphs in orange jasmine at the rate of 48% and 77% at Río Piedras and San Juan, respectively, approaching 100% on 5 occasions during spring and summer. The corresponding decline in infestation during peak flush in spring and later in the year could indicate that T. radiata made important contributions to the regulation of D. citri populations at these locations. Better understanding of factors favoring high parasitism rates in Puerto Rico could lead to more effective biological control of D. citri in other citrus producing areas.

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