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Bug Wars: How little wasps help protect Yuma County's citrus industry

Stephanie Sanchez

AZED-In 2009, the discovery of the Asian Citrus Psyllid in Yuma County led to a quarantine of residential and commercial citrus growers.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid, is a small insect that can carry a devastating disease to the state’s $37.2 million citrus industry.

The quarantine which was ordered in Yuma, La Paz and Santa Cruz counties has now been stretched to a small portion of Maricopa County.

Many methods have been used to help stop the spread of the pest but now the United States Department of Agriculture is using a bio-control method to help reduce populations of the pest.

KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez tells us about a wasp from Pakistan that could hold the line on a disease that is killing American citrus trees by targeting the inspect that carries it.  We’ll go along with officials as they release the wasp into local trees to fight Asian Citrus Psyllid.

Credit Stephanie Sanchez
USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine Technician Bobby Baker inspects the vial to make sure all wasps have been released.

Credit Stephanie Sanchez
This type of wasp named Tamarixia Radiata is originally from Pakistan. They solely feed on the Asian Citrus Psyllid which is a threat to Arizona's citrus industry.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid can carry citrus greening disease which can devastate Arizona's citrus industry.