Asian Citrus Psyllid: Habitat & Distribution

Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the Asian citrus psyllid, a carrier of a deadly disease currently affecting citrus crops. We'll look at the habitat and distribution of this species.

Tiny but Destructive

Citrus products are everywhere. If you've ever had orange juice or lemonade, or used limes in your cooking, then you're familiar with how common these types of fruit are in modern society. But did you know that many citrus trees around the world are being affected by a deadly disease? It's called citrus greening disease, and it stunts the growth of citrus trees and causes fruit to develop improperly. The trees usually die within five to eight years of being infected by the disease.

This fruit has been affected by citrus greening disease.
Citrus greening disease

What is even more interesting is that this disease is being spread by a tiny insect smaller than a grain of rice! Citrus greening disease is carried by the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri), a small insect only three or four millimeters long (a grain of rice is usually at least six millimeters). These little white and brown insects feed on citrus trees and spread the disease when they move from an infected tree to a healthy tree.


The Asian citrus psyllid eats and lives on plants in the Rutaceae family, which includes citrus trees such as limes, lemons, grapefruits, and oranges. These insects can fly and jump between trees if startled, but they usually only go very short distances at a time. The entire life cycle of this species takes place on citrus trees. They lay their eggs on new growth, and grow up eating and living on the trees.

Asian citrus psyllids are often found in citrus orchards. This is not particularly surprising, given their food preferences. After all, a citrus orchard is basically a grocery store for them, with all their food laid out in rows. However, they can also be found in isolated citrus trees, such as in people's personal gardens or yards.

This species prefers warm, consistent climates. They do best when the temperature stays between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer coastal climates. These conditions are where the psyllid's preferred food grows best, as citrus is a warm-weather product often grown in coastal regions.

Asian citrus psyllids prefer warm climates.
Asian citrus psyllid

Geographic Distribution

As you might expect given their name, Asian citrus psyllids are widespread throughout Asia, particularly in tropical and subtropical areas. They can be found as far north as China, west into Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and south throughout Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Asian Citrus Psyllid: Habitat & Distribution Quiz

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