An Indian scientist has said that the Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) could devastate the multi-billion-dollar citrus industry in the U.S.

In a statement, Dr Siddharth Tiwari, a postdoctoral research associate with University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC), has said: "Our study shows that insecticide resistance in the pests may become an emerging problem for ACP control if effective resistance management is not practiced."

The ACP is an insect that infects and kills citrus plants within years. It is increasingly becoming insecticide-resistant and could devastate the multi-billion-dollar citrus industry in the U.S., according to the statement.

The ACP attacks citrus trees, such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and mandarins and causes a fruit-destroying greening (HLB) disease that has no cure. HBL-infected fruits are not marketable due to extreme sour in taste and odd size. It causes massive tree removal and financial loss across the U.S. Citrus industry.

"These findings come at the right time when researchers and citrus growers are also working to fight this pest and HBL disease," said Tiwari.

The new study, which was published in the journal Pest Management Science, was conducted to document resistance levels in Florida populations of ACP to commonly used insecticides.

The researchers found that certain populations of the ACP have developed higher level of resistance to the insecticides, posing a great threat to the citrus industry that accounts for over $9 billion in Florida alone.

Baseline susceptibility data for both adult and immature ACP were developed using a laboratory susceptible population as a comparison. Five field-collected populations of the ACP were tested to estimate susceptibility levels in response to 12 insecticides.

The statement claims that the work of Dr Tiwari and his colleagues in the Department of Entomology at CREC could manage the ACP.

The study found that the insect is not harmful to humans.