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Avocado lace bug discovered on Maui

Invasive bug found feeding on avocado leaves across state

Avocado lace bug (Pseudacysta perseae) adults and nymphs are shown in this photo. The bug, which attacks the leaves of the avocado tree, has been found in Hawaii, including on Maui. State Department of Agriculture photos

The Maui News

The avocado lace bug has made its way to Hawaii, including in plants in retail outlets on Maui, the state Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

The new avocado pest has been confirmed by state Department of Agriculture entomologists with the help of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources — Cooperative Extension Service.

The avocado lace bug (Pseudacysta perseae) was first detected in Pearl City, Oahu, in December and was subsequently identified on Hawaii island and on Maui. The infested Maui plants were destroyed or treated, the Agriculture Department said.

The lace bug feeds on the leaves of avocado plants and extracts nutrients from foliage, causing gradual destruction of the leaves, the Agriculture Department said. The lace bug does not feed on the fruit itself but causes green to yellowish blotches on the leaves. Heavily damaged leaves become dry, may curl, drop prematurely and may cause reduction in fruit yields.

An infestation of the avocado lace bug is shown on the bottom of this leaf. People who suspect their tree may be infested with the lace bug are urged to contact the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Pest Control Branch at hdoa.ppc@hawaii.gov.

The lace bug also is known to feed on red bay and camphor on the Mainland.

Adult lace bugs are about 2 millimeters long with black heads and mostly black bodies with a black stripe across the width of their lacy wings. Immature lace bugs can range in color from reddish to dark brown to black, depending on life stage. The eggs are black and look like specks of excrement and may be found in clusters on the undersides of the leaves.

UH extension agents currently are working to determine effective treatment plans for various levels of infestations in Hawaii, the Agriculture Department said.

The avocado lace bug was described in Florida in the early 1900s and has spread through the southeastern U.S. and into California. It also is found in the Caribbean, Central and South America and Portugal.

It has not been determined how the lace bug was introduced to Hawaii, the Agriculture Department said.

Possible infestations should be reported to Agriculture Department’s Plant Pest Control Branch at hdoa.ppc@hawaii.gov. Photos of the damage to avocado plants also would be helpful in identifying the cause.

To view the avocado lace bug flyer and field guide, go to hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/ppc/new-pest-advisories/.

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