Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

With spring around the corner citrus trees are starting to push out new growth, but FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports new leaves and stems also mean more space for an invasive pest.

The citrus industry is asking California residents with outdoor orange or lemon trees to help them fight a potentially devastating pest. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell says the Asian citrus psyllid can carry a disease that is fatal to citrus trees.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Over that last few years the citrus industry was hit hard by a freeze, a drought and a disease. This year, as Ezra David Romero reports from Visalia Thursday, the industry faces even more issues.

In the heart of California’s orange country more than 200 growers met this week at the 2015 Citrus Showcase to collaborate on how to keep their tangelo, lemon and mandarin trees producing ripe and juicy fruit.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

Throughout Central California those who work in the citrus industry are on edge.  A tiny insect, no larger than an aphid, is threatening the future of the state’s billion dollar citrus crop.

It’s known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“It looks kind of like an aphid, only with a harder body, and a little bit browner," says Beth Grafton-Cardwell, an entomology specialist with the University of California at the Lindcove Research Center just west of Visalia.

And the creature’s babies are just as pleasant.