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March 29, 2023

Avocado Lace Bug and Pest Reporting on Lanai

Avocado Lace Bug”Written by Kari Bogner, Botany Program Manager, Pulama Lanai. 

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If you’ve noticed the avocado trees in Lanai City looking a little rundown, you’re not the only one. Unfortunately, a new pest has arrived on island called the avocado lace bug (“ALB,” Pseudocysta persea, family Tingidae) and its primary host plant is avocado (Persea americana). First documented on Oahu in 2019, the pest has quickly spread throughout the main islands (Hawaii Department of Agriculture, HDOA). Although this sap-sucking insect attacks the undersides of avocado leaves, severe infestations can reduce fruit yield and quality over time. Like many plant pests, there’s no cure-all for eradicating the pest from the island or from your own tree(s), but there are ways to minimize the infestation on individual trees. Whether you’re managing a fungal infection or an insect infestation on your plants, an integrated pest management plan is always the best approach.

Below are some tips that I gleamed from reading recent articles about ALB:

  • Although no known parasitoids of ALB have been recorded in Hawaii, planting other flowering plants near your avocado tree can attract lace bug predators.
  • Keep your avocado trees as healthy as possible to better help them fight off ALB infestations. This includes providing the tree with adequate water and nutrients year-round.
  • If you do choose to use a chemical treatment plan for reducing ALB levels on your avocado tree(s), switching between different types of pesticides reduces insect levels better than using one pesticide alone and reduces the chance of insect resistance to a single pesticide. Field studies from one paper found more reduced levels of ALB by switching between organic pesticides (g., insecticidal soap or essential oil dilutions) and conventional pesticides. If you’re opposed to using conventional pesticides, switching between organic-certified pesticides that have different modes of action for killing ALB should still better than using one pesticide. Remember to always follow pesticide labels. Pesticides that harm lace bugs are often harmful to honey bees and other pollinators and should not be applied to avocado trees during flowering. Pesticides should never be applied on windy days.
  • Keeping avocado trees well-pruned and smaller-sized will make pest management less time-consuming and costly.

If you see what looks to be a new pest on island, you can report it to the State of Hawaii hotline 808-643-PEST or go to their website (https://www.643pest.org). You can also drop off any interesting critters at Pulama Lanai’s Conservation Office, provided you give us a heads up and place them in a sealed container or Ziploc. We may not be able to identify your arthropod immediately, but we’re happy to reach out to experts who can. New island pests are important to document to understand their spread through the Hawaiian Islands, and many pests (like little fire ants) are much easier to eliminate before they become fully established.

For more information about new pests to Hawaii and ALB, check out the following articles:

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