Avocado pest spreads in Hawaii

  • Photo courtesy of HDOA Adult and nymph avocado lace bugs.

A new invasive pest that threatens Hawaii’s avocado crops has been detected throughout the state.

The state Department of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed the existence of avocado lace bugs on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

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The invasive insect feeds on the leaves of avocado plants and extract nutrients from them. Although they do not feed on the avocado fruits, they can cause the plant to shed its leaves early, which can reduce fruit yields.

The insects reach about 2 millimeters long when fully grown, with black heads, mostly black bodies and a black stripe across their wings. Juveniles range from reddish to dark brown to black, and their eggs are black specks that can be found on the undersides of avocado leaves.

The University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is working to determine effective treatments for lace bug infestations.

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It has not yet been determined how the insect first reached the state.

Potential infestations should be reported to the DOA at hdoa.ppc@hawaii.gov.

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