They are tiny and they do not play well together. For Mark Hoddle that is a good thing.

Hoddle is an entomologist with the University of California, Riverside (UCR). He has been working on biological control measures for the Asian citrus psyllid for more than two years now and has discovered two different parasitic wasps that show promise in helping control populations of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP).

One of the parasites, a miniscule wasp called Tamarixia radiate (Eulophidae) is smaller than its ACP prey, which is very small itself. Nevertheless, the wasp is quite effective at killing the ACP, provided there aren’t any Argentine Ants around to protect the ACP. More on the ant later.

Hoddle began releasing the tiny wasp on citrus trees and plants in southern California in 2011. While releases continue under the direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Hoddle said early indications suggested that the Tamarixia wasp appeared to do well on its own from the very beginning.

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“What was remarkable was we had put out few parasites in relatively few areas (and) they survived just fine,” Hoddle said. “They came through their first winter here in southern California with no problem. That is always the first test: can they survive their first winter?”

Like the ACP, which is native to Asia and has spread throughout much of the citrus-growing regions of the world, Tamarixia radiate is not native to North America. Hoddle found the parasitic wasp in Pakistan and was able to collect it after a computer search for climate similarities to southern California and a bit of pure happenstance.