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Eucalyptus shoot psyllids

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Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.

From Forest Health News No. 88, August 1999.

The eucalypt shoot psyllid (Ctenarytaina spatulata) was first identified in New Zealand in 1990 by Pam Dale. It appears to have arrived here without its own natural parasitoids, unlike the blue gum psyllid (Ctenarytaina eucalypti) which is well controlled by a small parasitoid (Psyllaephagus pilosus). So effective was P. pilosus in New Zealand, it has now been introduced into California as a biocontrol agent for the blue gum psyllid. Another common eucalypt shoot psyllid is Blastopsylla occidentalis (first identified in New Zealand in 1977) which probably came from Western Australia. This species can produce copious white flocculence when feeding. My observations are that both psyllids (C. spatulata and B. occidentalis) attack many species of eucalypts in Northland, and can cause damage to species within the subgenus Symphomyrtus, especially sections Transversaria and Maidenaria. The very wide range of hosts includes many species of economic significance. It appears that psyllid damage has become more prevalent in recent years. Some damage possibly caused by shoot psyllid infestations includes stunting of young plants, shedding of young leaves, and leaf and stem spots. Moderate psyllid attack throughout the Northland summer may cause leaf senescence and premature shedding, resulting in a thinning of the crown. Winter growth flushes suffer minor attack, with some leaf distortion and spotting. I suspect that these psyllids may be contributing to an overall loss of vigour in the affected eucalypts.

(Dean Satchell, Northland )

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