Tallahassee, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The State of Florida wants to ship an army of tiny wasps to you. The little insects are on the front line in the battle against Citrus greening. That's an infection that kills citrus crops.
At a small facility surrounded by dying citrus trees in Dundee, Dr. Robin Stuart breeds the wasps – producing about 2 million each year.
Tamarixia wasps feed off the Asian Citrus Psyllid bugs that cause the infection, and prevent it from spreading. Dr. Stuart said the female wasps actually lay their eggs inside the Citrus Psyllid and the offspring actually eat the bugs.
"It's a major food supply for them and it's the way they reproduce,” said Stuart.
Stuart said the bugs are natural enemies of one another and are supposed to be a part of one another’s ecosystems, but when citrus trees were originally brought to Florida the wasps just didn’t thrive.
So the lab, along with a few others operated by the Florida Department of Agriculture, are breeding the wasps to release into the state’s citrus trees and help balance out the current citrus greening crisis.
Now, you can go to the Florida Department of Agriculture website, fill out an application, and have the insects shipped to you for free.
Dr. Stuart said there’s no “silver bullet” to take out the citrus greening problem, but he said the wasps along with other insects that are fighting the pests and advancements in citrus farming are getting the state closer to a fix.
"We're going to solve this problem,” he said.
You don't have to have your own a field of citrus crops, you just need to have at least one citrus tree in your backyard.