Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Just Another Psyllid
I was cruising around looking for something cute or picturesque or meaningful to photograph for summer solstice, and instead found the variegated pittosporum covered with sticky white squiggles.
The new growth is all folded together on itself, and the cavity on most of these areas is filled with very sticky honeydew, as seen dripping in the photo. The white squiggles can be followed to their ends at the hind end of the psyllids which are tiny, green, and squared-off in shape.
You may have made the acquaintance of a variety of other psyllids: Bluegum psyllids that infest blue gum and other eucalyptus trees and live under conical little shelters on the leaves, and make a terrible mess in the process; Eugenia psyllid, that infests eugenia shrubs, living inside the deformed leaves and makes a terrible mess in the process; or Red gum lerp psyllids, which infest a variety of eucalyptus trees living under an odd shaped scaly shelter among gobs of honeydew, and of course making a terrible mess in the process.
My call to the entomologist at County Ag Extension revealed this psyllid is called "Pittosporum psyllid" for want of a better name for now. It was first noticed in OC about 10 years ago but didn't really escape into the general public. Lately, though, it is being seen on hedges in ordinary neighborhoods like mine. Its only known host is pittosporum; it came from Asia; and it seems capable of making a terrible mess of my pitts. These psyllids, like the eucalyptus psyllids, exude a waxy substance which, in the case of the others is used to create a shelter to hide under. What the purpose of the white squiggles of Pittosporum psyllid is, I don't know yet.