The Asian citrus psyllid, or Diaphorina citri (ACP-Asian Citrus Psyllid), is the insect vector of the most aggressive bacterium associated with Huanglongbing disease (HLB), which is considered the most serious disease of citrus.

The researchers of the #Pre-HLB project, Marcelo Miranda (Fundecitrus, Brazil), Alberto Fereres (ICA-CSIC), Ofir Bahar (Volcani, Israel) and Leandro Peña (IBMCP-CSIC) are collaborating with the Israeli phytosanitary authorities. The initial focus was located, in July 2021, very close to Netanya, a fairly large city north of Tel Aviv, where there are many orange and mandarin plantations. The application of insecticide treatments seems to have managed to control the focus as of November. The arrival of winter also helped to reduce the insect population, which is likely to multiply again in early spring.

Although the presence of bacteria associated with HLB was not found in any of the insects, we must be alert: i) due to the characteristics of a vector capable of flying 1 km per week (and more in windy areas), ii) because in the first detection it was already they found adults and all stages of development of the insect. This leads us to think that it has been detected when it had probably been there for several months, which makes it very difficult for it to be eradicated at this point.

Pre-HLB is in contact with the local authorities through the Volcani center, a partner in the project. One of our recommendations was to communicate the situation to the population as soon as possible to try to enlist their help in the detection and possible eradication of the insect. This point is basic since Netanya has houses with patios, gardens, etc. with citrus and related ornamental trees in which the Asian citrus psyllid could take refuge.

We will keep you informed.

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