Tiny pest, a psyllid, leaves Eucalyptus trees inundated

They live in a lerp. They wreck paint jobs on cars. And they kill eucalyptus trees.

The Red Gum lerp psyllid, first found in Merced County in 1998, has established itself as a major pest for the tens of thousands of eucalyptus trees that dot the county.

"Lerp" is an Australian aboriginal word for the little white waxy cup that the psyllid nymph lives under. And it's that sticky little insect home that people find on the hoods of their cars this time of year.

But another little insect is trying hard to kill those pesky psyllids -- and it's gotten a good start on helping save the aromatic trees.

David Robinson, agricultural commissioner for Merced County, said that the psyllids came from Australia, just like the trees they love to munch on.

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