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One Of The Most Damaging Insect Pests In America May Finally Be Eradicated

January 2nd, 2018

One Of The Most Damaging Insect Pests In America May Finally Be Eradicated

Insect pests are a growing global threat. Some insect pests damage cash-crops, while other insect pests damage important forms of vegetation. Insect pests that damage trees are particularly worrisome, as trees and other plants are essential for absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All forms of vegetation absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but trees in forested regions absorb significant amounts of the atmospheric gas. When insect pests begin to damage one single tree, it is only a matter of time before all nearby trees succumb to the same damage. There are several insect pests in the United States that devastate forested regions. Asian citrus psyllids are one of the most damaging insect pests to trees in the US. For nearly twenty years, researchers have been struggling to develop more effective methods of citrus psyllid control. Finally, one researcher from the University of Southern California at Davis has discovered what may be the key to defeating this damaging insect pest.

Asian citrus psyllids feed on the leaves of trees that grow citrus fruits. These leaves eventually grow citrus fruits, which the psyllids also destroy. Not only do these insect pests destroy fruit crops, but they also destroy entire trees. Citrus psyllids are known for spreading a disease to citrus trees that eventually causes tree-death. This disease is known as Huanglongbing (HLB). Luckily, an ecologist, Walter Leal, has successfully identified a sex pheromone that is secreted by citrus psyllids. This pheromone can be used to develop traps for citrus psyllids that are active in forested regions. The traps would contain a synthesized version of the psyllid’s pheromones. These pheromones would attract the psyllids to a trap that features a sticky substance. Once psyllids make contact with the sticky substance, they would not be able to escape. Trees infected with HLB usually die within five years. There is no cure for the disease, but the discovery of this particular pheromone could prevent HLB from spreading further.

Do you believe sticky traps that are planted in forested regions could harm other insects that are beneficial to the natural environment?

 

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