Submitted to: Florida Entomological Society Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2013
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The melaleuca psyllid has been introduced to Florida as a biological control agent against Melaleuca quinquenervia, an invasive evergreen tree that has invaded large areas of Florida wetland since its introduction earlier from Australia as an ornamental plant. Colonies of the psyllid on young shoots and leaves of melaleuca are normally covered by white waxy material, and nymphs of various instars produce long bundles of white waxy filaments extending laterally and posteriorly from their abdomens. A scanning electron microscopy study of ‘waxed’ and ‘dewaxed’ nymphs (cleaned from wax) revealed two types of wax pore plates located dorsally and laterally on the integument of the abdominal segments starting with the 4th segment. Type-1 wax pore plates, with raised rim, slits and pits, produce long ribbons and filaments of waxy secretions that wound together forming very long wax bundles, whereas type-2 wax pore plates, with slits only, produce shorter curls of wax. Additionally, in both nymphs and adult females, the circumanal ring (around the anus) contained ornate rows of smaller wax pores that produce wax filaments covering their honeydew excretions. Males had no circumanal ring or anal wax pores, but both males and females had type-2 pore plates on the two abdominal terga anterior to their anal segments. Infra-red spectroscopy of waxy secretions by the melaleuca psyllid nymphs indicated that they have spectra similar to those of ester wax. The role(s) of waxy secretions by the psyllid, in avoiding contamination with their honeydew among other possibilities, are discussed.