An Invasive Pest Affects Avocado Trees In Hawaii

Honolulu – An invasive insect pest was discovered feeding on the leaves of avocado trees in the state of Hawaii and was also seen in plants at retail stores in Maui, entomologists said.

The insect was first discovered in December in Pearl City, on Oahu, and then sighted on the islands of Hawaii and Maui, the state Department of Agriculture reported. Department authorities have not confirmed the presence of the plague in Kauai.

Infested plants discovered Thursday in retail stores in Maui were destroyed or taken care of, department officials said.


It is unknown how those insects were introduced in Hawaii.

Department experts collaborated with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources – Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Hawaii to identify the pest.

The avocado lace bug feeds on the leaves by extracting nutrients and gradually destroys the plants, experts said. However, it does not feed on the avocado itself.

These tinnitus cause yellowish spots on the green leaves and can reduce the production of the fruit because the damaged leaves dry out, they can bend or fall prematurely.

The insect, whose scientific name is pseudacysta perseae, also feeds on Persian Bourbon plants and camphor trees in the continental United States. These insects can also be found in the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Portugal.

Adult avocado bugs have black heads and mostly black bodies with a black stripe that crosses their wings similar to lace fabric. The insect can vary in color, from red to dark brown and black.

Any possible infestation should be reported to the Plant Pest Control Branch, belonging to the Department of Agriculture.