University of California scientists have begun releasing a minute wasp to help control the Asian citrus psyllid in Southern California.

UC researchers release psyllid-killing parasitic wasps

The parasitic wasps, Tamarixia radiata, were released in a citrus grove in Riverside, according to a news release.

Over the next several years, UC Riverside and California Department of Food and Agriculture scientists will rear and release thousands of the parasitic wasps throughout California.

Tamarixia lay eggs in Asian citrus psyllid nymphs.

The wasp larvae eat the psyllid nymphs, killing them in the process. About 12 days later, the wasps emerge as adults.

In addition, adult female Tamarixia eat psyllid nymphs.

The wasps were collected in their native habitat, the Punjab region of Pakistan, by UC Cooperative Extension biological control specialist Mark Hoddle and his wife, Christina Hoddle.

The beneficials were imported under permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and quarantined at the university before being reared.

As part of the quarantine, researchers had to show that the parasitic wasp posed no threat to native species and that it did not carry diseases.