The Ministry of Agriculture began the national programme for biological control of this pest last week, providing one to two releases per week until early October, said the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Nuno Russo.

The drops will take place in affected parishes, especially in the Centre, North and Lisbon, to ensure that the insects “do not reach the Algarve region,” he said.

“As a result of the first experimental releases made in October 2019, which had promising results, we are advancing with a national plan to eradicate the pest in Portugal and avoid its dispersion to the rest of the country, especially in the south, where the citrus groves are fundamental for national agriculture and for exports,” said Nuno Russo.

According to Russo, the action is taking place in coordination with the Spanish phytosanitary services (which supply the parasitoid), since the pest has also been identified in Galicia and the Canaries.

The programme had a first experimental phase, in 2019, with the release of 1,800 parasitoid insects ‘Tamarixia dryi’ in the Central and Western region.