Through his university contacts Hoddle was introduced to Iqrar Khan, a UCR alum who is the vice chancellor of the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, and a world authority on Huanglongbing (HLB) and other citrus diseases. Khan earned his masters and doctoral degrees from UCR. Hoddle said it was a “pure fluke” that he met Khan and subsequently learned of the Tamarixia in Pakistan.

“He has been a very enthusiastic supporter of this project because it helps his university and it ties his university back to UC Riverside,” Hoddle said.

Through this introduction Hoddle and his wife, Christina, also an entomologist at UCR, were able to travel to Pakistan to collect the Tamarixia and bring them back to the United States. That in itself was quite a feat.

“This is a very complicated process to get permits to bring back boxes of parasites,” Hoddle said. “We are flying from Pakistan to the United States, carrying a box with a big label on it that reads: ‘under no conditions can this box be opened.’ Naturally the security people are very worried about this box that they can’t open or X-ray.”

In spite of some delays at various airports, Hoddle said their paperwork to import the invasive pests was in order and they were ultimately allowed to continue with their box of wasps, which remained closed until they returned to his UC Riverside quarantine lab.

While the Tamarixia has a rather large range, stretching from the Middle East through Indonesia and Asia, the Punjab region of Pakistan was chosen because of its relatively close climatic match to southern California.

“Before we started this program there were no parasites attacking the Asian citrus psyllid here in California,” Hoddle said.