Can A Tiny Wasp Save The Citrus Industry?


Guy Davies, an inspector of the Florida Division of Plant Industry, shows an orange that is showing signs of “citrus greening.” The disease is caused by a bacterium carried by the Asian citrus psyllid.

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Researchers in Arizona are fighting fire with fire. They’re collecting new data on a wasp that may help slow the spread of citrus greening, a plant disease that has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops, particularly in Florida.

The disease is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, which is no bigger than the head of a pin. The psyllid feeds on citrus trees and carries in its gut the bacteria that cause greening. Leaves become twisted and fruit becomes withered and unusable. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure. Eventually, it dies.

The parasitic wasp, Tamarixia Radiata, is a predator of the Asian citrus psyllid. The wasps are so tiny that scientists can ship 200 of them in a vial about the size of a photo film canister.

<img src="" title="Bobby Baker, a technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, looks for the Asi…

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