Agriculture
9:19 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Citrus Pest Find In Tulare County Raises Concerns

The citrus psyllid is no bigger than an aphid but poses a huge threat to the California citrus industry.
The citrus psyllid is no bigger than an aphid but poses a huge threat to the California citrus industry.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

The first breeding population of a potentially disease ridden bug that the California citrus industry has been fighting to keep out of the Valley was found in record number in the region Tuesday. Just under 200 Asian citrus psyllids were spotted on three backyard citrus trees in the community of Dinuba.

“We sent out our staff biologist and he was able to see all stages of the ACP, the eggs, the nymphs and the adults on more than one young citrus tree,” says Tom Tucker, the Tulare County assistant agriculture commissioner.

"This find certainly ratchets up our concern level because up to this point we have not found a breading population in the San Joaquin Valley or north of the Tehachapi's" - Les Wright, Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner

The agriculture industry is aware that the tiny bug has the potential to carry a disease known as huanglongbing or citrus greening. The disease infects the tree by depriving it of nutrients, the citrus becomes hard and bitter and over time kills the tree. At the moment there is no cure for the bacterial disease.

Les Wright, the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner says that if the diseases takes root in Central California has the potential to decimate the citrus industry.

“This find certainly ratchets up our concern level because up to this point we have not found a breading population in the San Joaquin Valley or north of the Tehachapi’s,” Wright says.

Over 500 sticky traps are being set up around a nine mile radius surrounding the find. A five mile quarantine around the areas where the insects were found is expected to be put into force in the coming days.

Citrus advocates say that the only way to rid the region of the pest is for every citrus owner, whether commercial or backyard, to take a proactive stance towards eradicating the bug.

For information on the Asian Citrus Pysllid visit: http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/ViewDocument.aspx?id=56096.

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