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Can Non-Target Lupines Withstand A Sea of French Broom Psyllids?

French Broom PsyllidABCL Staff
The adult French Broom psyllid. (Photo by René FH Sforza)

Psyllids are currently under investigation at European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL) as potential biocontrol agents against French broom. Psyllids are sap-sucking insects that impact their host plants by intense feeding pressure and the production of high levels of honeydew. The honeydew covers the foliage and causes sooty mold growth. This growth may inhibit photosynthesis.

Field Plot
A field plot with two concentric circles lined with plant species, belonging to the lupine group, are randomly placed along the two perimeters. (Photo by René FH Sforza)

Two concentric circles with a radius of five and 10 meters were constructed and plant species belonging to the lupine group randomly placed along the two perimeters in an open field test. At the center of the two circles, hundreds of psyllids of all life stages were released in spring 2021. The spread of individuals on the lupines and the French broom control plants was quantified. The data is currently in the process of being analyzed.

It is important to determine whether this psyllid can naturally reach lupines from one point of release and eventually sustain a colony under realistic field conditions. Open field tests tend to be more reliable than laboratory tests conducted using cages under non-natural conditions.

The psyllid and French broom are native to southern France, which provides a great opportunity to perform field work without the necessity of conducting such research in a quarantine facility.

Authors: Gaylord Desurmont and René FH Sforza

Contact: Michael Grodowitz

The European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL) was established in 1991 near Montpellier, France. EBCL was created by the merger of the former European Parasite Laboratory, established in Paris in 1919, and the Biological Control of Weeds Laboratory in Rome. EBCL has a satellite laboratory in Thessaloniki, Greece. As the only USDA ARS-operated laboratory outside the United States, EBCL develops biological control technologies which can be used to suppress invading weeds and insect pests of Eurasian origin. EBCL researchers do this by searching for natural enemies (insects, mites, and pathogens) in their native habitat, determining their identity, testing their host specificity and potential impact in laboratory and field experiments, and shipping promising organisms to the U.S. for further testing as biological control agents. EBCL collaborates with scientists in many countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa to explore in regions of origin of the target weeds and insects.