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Citrus Root Weevil detected in Georgia

Diaprepes abbreviates (also known as the citrus root weevil or the Apopka weevil) was detected in one trap sample from Chatham County, Georgia during the 2021 APHIS PPQ survey season.  While this insect is not assumed to be widespread in Georgia at this time, growers should be aware of this weevil given the recent increase in citrus acreage in Georgia and the potential damage that this weevil can cause to citrus roots.

First introduced to Florida in 1964, the Diaprepes root weevil is now a major pest of citrus in central and southern Florida where it is estimated to cause over $70 million in damages to citrus each year.  It has also been found in California and Texas. In addition to affecting citrus, the Diaprepes root weevil can also affect ornamental plants and other crops including blueberry, avocado, and sugarcane.

In recent years, higher winter temperatures appear to be allowing numerous pest species to expand their ranges further north.  This may be the case with the Diaprepes root weevil also, as it has recently been found in northern Florida (in Jefferson County, FL which borders the FL-GA line).  Accordingly, citrus growers and extension personnel should be on the lookout for this insect in Georgia.

While adult beetles feed on leaves and cause a characteristic notching pattern, the larvae can cause the most serious damage. If left untreated, feeding of the larvae can eventually kill the plant by girdling the crown area of the root system, and the root damage caused by this weevil has also been shown to allow Phytophthora, a plant pathogen known to cause root rot, to more easily invade plant roots and cause decline of affected citrus trees. Management of this weevil relies on the use of an integrated approach.

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About Jonathan Oliver

Dr. Jonathan Oliver is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia. He has a 75% research and 25% extension appointment. Dr. Oliver started in his current position at the University of Georgia in mid-2017 as an extension fruit pathologist at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. His responsibilities include research and extension activities focused on pathogen biology and disease management in fruit crops grown primarily in the southern part of Georgia, including blueberries, blackberries, citrus, and other emerging fruit crops. Dr. Oliver obtained a BS degree in Plant Pathology and Microbiology & Cell Science from the University of Florida in 2005, and a PhD in Plant Microbe Biology from Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY in 2011. In addition, he has also been postdoctoral researcher at Kansas State University and Auburn University. At Auburn, he characterized the interactions between the emerging bacterial pathogen, Xylella fastidiosa, and its blueberry plant hosts. He currently serves as a Plant Pathology Section editor for the Southeast Regional Blueberry Integrated Management Guide.