Pest of the Month
Ficus Leaf-Rolling Psyllid (aka FLRP, Trioza brevigenae)
Photos: Donald R. Hodel, University of California Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles County
Distribution: Discovery of the pest in six counties in southern California constitutes a new record in the Western Hemisphere. Native to northern India. This pest is not currently in Hawaii.*
Hosts: This pest is known to infest Ficus microcarpa, it has not been found on any other hosts.
Symptoms and Damage: FLRP targets young leaves, rolling them tightly and completely into narrow cylinders. Rolled leaves remain green, but infestation by other pests such as leaf gall wasp can cause other deformation and discoloration. FLRP leaf rolling has a different appearance compared to leaf rolling by Cuban laurel thrips, which cause discoloration and fold the leaf blades along the rachis (midrib). FLRP nymphs conceal themselves inside the rolled leaves. Adults are about 2.6-2.8mm long, green and brown with protruding red eyes, and are generally observed outside the rolled leaves. They often seen raising and wagging their abdomens from side to side.
Control: Management protocols for FLRP have yet to be developed. Frequent periodic pruning may result in the removal of this and many other pests of F. microcarpa. Avoid excessive irrigation and fertilization, which stimulate new growth to which these psyllids are attracted.
“The Ficus Leaf-Rolling Psyllid – A New Pest of Ficus microcarpa,” UC IPM Green Bulletin (Vol.6 No.2 August 2016), p.3-4. http://blogs.cdfa.ca.gov/Section3162/?cat=5
* Though this pest is not currently in Hawai’i, AAA raises awareness of potential pest threats so that arboriculture professionals and residents alike can help our state monitor and identify pest problems when they arise.