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PNS Daily News - August 22, 2017 


We're featuring a variety of stories in today’s news including: a new strategy for Afghanistan; an increase in hate groups is not just an issue in the South; and high blood pressure becoming a more common problem among children and teens.

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Florida Homeowners Asked to Help with Citrus Crop

A tiny bug newly introduced to Florida from Asia attacks citrus trees and some ornamental plants. (Department of Agriculture)
A tiny bug newly introduced to Florida from Asia attacks citrus trees and some ornamental plants. (Department of Agriculture)
August 7, 2017

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A tiny insect is placing Florida citrus in jeopardy, but residents can help.

Citrus trees in the Sunshine State are under attack from the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), a tiny mottled brown insect about the size of an aphid that feeds on the new leafs of citrus trees and some ornamental plants.

It also leaves behind plant bacteria and leads to what's called citrus greening disease.

Researchers have found a wasp (Tamarixia) that controls the bug, and homeowners are asked to set some of them free into their own yards and gardens.

The Florida Department of Agriculture is mailing out packages of the wasp to anyone who requests them.

Jim Notestein, a long-time Gainesville resident, is helping spread the word around the state. He says the wasps don't sting and are easy to release.

"When the good wasps are sent to you, you want to open your package fairly quickly and put the wasps out to go to work,” he states. “There'll be instructions with the package.

“They'll be sent in the overnight mail. You wouldn't want to get your package of bugs, and let them sit on the counter for a week. The wasps only live for about three weeks."

Environmental groups urge the use of natural predators as opposed to toxic pesticides.

Florida has already had to deal with the Citrus canker, Whitefly infestations, fire ants, and other viruses and diseases. Notestein says this is a problem that Floridians can help solve.

"We're hoping this is going to be kind of a human network that once people who find out that have kind of a vision of a better future that they could be part of making, the so-called citizen scientists,” he states.

Notestein says if enough people release the wasp and it becomes established in neighborhoods, it can become the first line of defense to save fruit trees in Florida.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - FL