Psyllid Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Psyllids

With more than 3,000 species of psyllids, it is easy to understand why they thrive in different places around the world. They affect a multitude of crops and bring damages that may leave you in frustration, especially if the infestation is apparent in commercial crops. Although some species are harmless, many of them can result in devastating damages, which makes it critical to be aware of how to get rid of psyllids.

Psyllid eggs are elongate and have a length of .3mm. They have a thick base and slim on the end. The eggs start pale after laying, but they become yellow as they grow older and orange before they hatch. The nymph, meanwhile, starts at a length of .25 mm and undergoes five instars or stages of development before it fully transforms into maturity. When they reach adulthood, their average length is 1/12 to 1/5 inch. They have short antennae and strong legs that they use to jump from one plant to another. Although they have transparent wings, they are weak fliers, which is why they use their legs instead to jump.

Brown Psyllid on The Leaves

A Brown Psyllid on a Leaf

Psyllid’s Habitat

You can find psyllid all over the world and their habitat will depend on the specific type of the pest, although almost all of them cause an infestation in the same way. They suck on the sap of the plants that serve as their host. Whether they are nymph or adults, they will pierce the surface of their host and suck its juice. The adults are common in crevices of trees.

Identifying Psyllid’s Damage 

Plants Affected

One of the most important things to know about psyllids is that they are monophagous. Depending on the specific type of the psyllid, it will feed on a single host, or occasionally, what belongs to the family of the plant. Asian citrus psyllid, for instance, feeds on citrus trees. Other hosts for psyllids include acacia, tomato, eggplants, pears, peppers, and olive, among others.

Symptoms

The symptoms of the presence of psyllids will vary on the host and type of pest. Here are some of the most common:

  • Among others, perform a quick inspection of the leaves as it will show the first signs of damage. The toxic saliva of the pest can be apparent on the surface. They will also sometimes secrete honeydew. With this, pay attention to the presence of galls and sticky substances in the plant to know if psyllids are possibly present.
  • In the case of pear psyllid, one of the most common symptoms is the appearance of black foliage and skins on the fruit where they are present.
  • With Bactericera cockerelli, which resides in potatoes and tomatoes, the leaves and shoots will appear yellowish with distortions in their physical structure. Also, it can introduce the zebra chips disease, which gives potatoes zebra-like stripes.
  • In citrus plants, psyllids can cause the veins to turn yellow, which will also weaken the plant. This can lead to plant stunting, making the host produce fruits that are smaller in size and in most cases, unmarketable and unfit for human consumption. This nutrient deficiency is technically known as huanglongbing. 

Results of Infestation

When there is a high concentration of psyllids in the host plant, it will demonstrate negative impacts on its growth. Young seedlings are the most susceptible to the damage. When an infestation occurs at an early stage, chances are, they will no longer grow. While matured plants will be more resistant, the younger ones are more likely to die. Defoliation can also happen, but this will depend on how healthy and resistant is the host. For landscape plants, the damage is often just in terms of aesthetics.

Damage to new Leaves as a Result of Feeding by Psyllid Nymphs

Leaves Damaged by Psyllid Nymphs

How to Get Rid of Psyllids 

Natural and Organic Solutions

Eliminating psyllids is possible without resorting to the use of harsh chemicals that are toxic to the environment. With this, below are some of the best solutions:

  • On the top of the list is environmental control. You can alter the environment or the garden to get rid of psyllids. With this, one thing to do is to trim the vegetation and take out any part of the plant that is already showing visible signs of damage. Also, see to it that there will be no ants as they offer protection to psyllids.
  • Biological control is another effective method you might want to consider. To do this, all that you need to do is to encourage the presence of natural predators. You can opt to buy them or you can also grow plants that will attract their presence. Some of the best predators to have include green lacewings, lady beetles, and parasitic wasps.
  • The use of yellow traps with a sticky coating is also a good choice for elimination method, although many use it for monitoring the presence of psyllids. You just need to hang the traps or leave it on the surface. The psyllids will stick on it and will not be able to escape until they die or the time that you discard them.
  • It will also be good to consider the use of diatomaceous earth. This is another effective solution that does not cause toxic effects to the environment or to other insects. It contains diatoms or fossil remains. Sprinkle it on the host plants and it will keep the population in check, not only of psyllids, but also of fleas, cockroaches, and spiders, among others.
  • Kaolin clay is one solution that many people ignore despite the fact that it is promising. Many of you might know such material as a common ingredient for skincare products, but it also works in getting rid of psyllids. It creates a barrier to protect the host plant from damage.

Chemical Solutions

In cases where infestation is already out of control, chemical solutions are promising. Most of the chemicals, however, will target psyllids only during their younger stages. Once they reach full maturity, elimination will be more challenging. Among others, systemic neonicotinoids should be on the top of your list. Trunk application is best to make it target the psyllids and less toxic to other insects in the garden.

How to Prevent Psyllids

The best preventive measure is to make sure that your plants remain in the best state of health. When it is healthy, it will be more resistant to infestation. This is true not only in the case of psyllids, but with other pests as well. You also need to keep the surroundings clean and always check your plant for damage. To add, avoid overfertilizing and overwatering the plants as it will make it more attractive for psyllids. Act as soon as possible before the problem escalates.

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