Investigation into citrus blossom bugs in avocados (AV19000)
What’s it all about?
Beginning in 2019, this investment is developing an understanding of the biology and ecology of citrus blossom bug and its impact on the Australian avocado industry. Ultimately, this project will produce a guide for growers to help them protect their crops from the insect, monitor for the bug and manage any infestations.
Citrus blossom bug is currently thought to reduce floral production on citrus trees in coastal districts by killing the small flowers shoots – but an increasing number of avocado growers are also reporting poor crops due to this pest. At present very little is known about the lifecycle of the citrus blossom bug, how it is distributed and whether it has any natural enemies. This project will deliver the knowledge on this pest that is needed to ensure that effective management strategies can be developed.
Project activities include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting a comprehensive literature review of citrus blossom bugs and related pests in avocado and similar industries, including current management methods used for similar pests
- Field studies to determine the taxonomy and pest status of the pest, such as whether citrus blossom bug damage affects flower set, fruit set and yield
- Studying the biology and ecology of the pest, including identifying key natural enemies, lifecycle stages, and potential host range
- Compiling data on the efficacy of current management methods and identifying possible new strategies.
Since commencement of the project, research has included a preliminary taxonomic study of first-season field collections from Far North, Central and South-East Queensland. The study confirmed clear differences between male and female citrus blossom bug (CBB). It also showed differences between North Queensland specimens compared with those from Central and South Queensland, with further investigation ongoing.
A preliminary field trial was conducted to evaluate the damage caused by CBB to avocado crops and its pest status. The results were inconclusive, with work also continuing in this area.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund