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UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County
669 County Square Dr. Suite 100
Ventura CA 93003
Phone: 805.645.1451
Fax: 805.645.1474

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Our offices are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our team is telecommuting from home. We are available via phone and email. 

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Red Gum Lerp Psyllid

 
The Red Gum Lerp Psyllid is a native of Australia, and it was introduced to southern California several years ago. Since that time, it has gradually made its way north to Santa Barbara County, and we are now seeing an invasion of north county. The female psyllid, which looks a little like a large winged aphid, lays eggs on red gum eucalyptus. The emerged nymph feeds on the leaf. In the process, it develops a little shell, called a “lerp,” over itself. The feeding activity also produces copious quantities of honeydew, which coat everything in and under the tree, and finally it causes defoliation. Control is difficult and expensive. Spraying 60-80-foot trees is not easy, and the process requires special high-pressure equipment. Hence, most affected trees are not sprayed and as a result will die. Research on the natural parasites and predators of red gum lerp psyllid is ongoing. Some promising natural enemies have already been imported from Australia, and test releases have been made. It will be some time before a natural balance is struck between pest and parasite, however. In the meantime, many red gum eucalyptus will become firewood.