Californians called on to inspect all home citrus trees
March 7, 2016
• Urged to look for any signs of Asian citrus psyllid
• “We need the help of citrus farmers and home gardeners”
No longer just the responsibility of commercial citrus growers, the war against a small insect is spreading to the state's back yards.
All Californians who have a citrus tree in their yards are being asked to poke through the leaves looking for any signs of the dreaded Asian citrus psyllis.
That’s a small insect known to carry a disease fatal to citrus and other trees,
A tell-tale sign of spring in California is a flush of new leaf growth on citrus trees. Because the feathery light green leaves are particularly attractive to Asian citrus psyllids (ACP), the leaves' emergence marks a critical time to determine whether the pest has infested trees.
"We encourage home citrus growers and farmers to go out with a magnifying glass or hand lens and look closely at the new growth," says Beth Grafton-Cardwell, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources citrus entomologist.
"Look for the various stages of the psyllid – small yellow eggs, sesame-seed sized yellow ACP young with curly white tubules, or aphid-like adults that perch with their hind quarters angled up," she says.
Anyone finding signs of the insect are asked to call the California Department of Food and Agriculture Exotic Pest Hotline at (800) 491-1899.
Asian citrus psyllids are feared because they can spread huanglongbing (HLB) disease, an incurable condition that first causes yellow mottling on the leaves and later sour, misshapen fruit before killing the tree.
ACP, native of Pakistan, Afghanistan and other tropical and subtropics regions of Asian, was first detected in California in 2008. Everywhere Asian citrus psyllids have appeared – including Florida and Texas – the pests have spread the disease. A few HLB-infected trees have been located in urban Los Angeles County. They were quickly removed by CDFA officials.
"In California, we are working hard to keep the population of ACP as low as possible until researchers can find a cure for the disease," says Ms. Grafton-Cardwell. "We need the help of citrus farmers and home gardeners."