oranges

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.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Update: Saturday, 8:45 AM: Unexpected cloud cover late Friday and early Saturday kept temperatures slightly higher than forecast, enough to prevent damage to most commercially grown fruit. Lows in most places were in the upper 20's. Forecasts call for more extreme cold over the weekend.  ORIGINAL REPORT:

Valley citrus growers are in for a long night tonight, as what is expected to be the coldest evening of the year threatens to damage the region's citrus crop, with the most popular new variety, the mandarin orange,  most at risk.