The African citrus psyllium, Trioza erytreae, is an insect whose presence in a territory can produce a very high impact, both because of the direct damage it causes but mainly because of its role as a vector of the “Huanglongbing” disease (HLB) or citrus greening, currently considered as the main threat to these plants worldwide. The importance of both organisms is such that they are subject to strict national and European legislation to prevent their introduction and to contain their possible spread if this is not possible.
The disease (HLB) is not yet in Europe, but T. erytreae was detected in Spain in 2002 in the Canary Islands. It was not detected until twelve years later in the peninsula, when it appeared precisely in the province of Pontevedra. The Estación Fitopatolóxica Areeiro, of the Deputación de Pontevedra, published this detection, which is also the first reference of the insect in the whole European continental territory. The different programs and contingency plans that were established later in compliance with the European legislation did not give the expected results, so the pest spread through Pontevedra, other Galician provinces (even the commercialization and, in general, the movement of citrus plants was forbidden for years) and other areas of the north of the peninsula, such as Cantabria.
It is a very sensitive insect to heat and dry weather, so it has adapted perfectly to our conditions. It is therefore of vital importance to determine its actual distribution and study its biology and phenology, in order to be able to adopt the necessary measures for its control at the right time. In addition, knowledge of the key biological aspects of the pest will help to reduce the risk of accidental introduction of the disease it transmits.
The CSIC, specifically the Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias de Madrid, is one of the members participating in the the PRE-HLB project, which our objectives includes the study of the biology, ecology and behaviour of African psylla. Given the risk that the necessary artificial breeding of the insect in a community, such as Madrid, free of African psylla would entail, and because the Pontevedra Provincial Council has an experienced arthropod and integrated control laboratory in Areeiro to carry out this work, the collaboration presented yesterday, 23th of july, between CSIC and DEPO has been agreed, which, although it will take the form of an agreement that is currently being processed, has already begun with the start of the small-scale experiments.