A tree-killing bug responsible for devastating Florida citrus trees and found last year in South Orange County continues to threaten local crops.
“Records from the California Department of Food and Agriculture indicate there were psyllids found in San Juan Capistrano earlier this year and in Mission Viejo this summer, among other areas,” said Katie Rowland, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
The Asian citrus psyllid is one-eighth of an inch big but has the ability to infect citrus trees with a disease called huanglongbing, HLB, or citrus greening disease.
Neither the bug nor the disease is harmful to humans, but can be disastrous to an important part of California’s economy, the citrus industry.
“The disease destroys the production, appearance and economic value of citrus trees. Diseased trees produce bitter, hard, misshapen fruit and die within a few years of being infected,” says a website the state set up to educate the public about the threat.
“All in all, Orange County continues to be at risk for the Asian citrus psyllid,” Rowland said.
She offers these suggestions for homeowners who have citrus trees:
- Don’t move citrus — Do not bring any citrus fruit or plant material into the area from other areas because it might be infected with HLB or carrying psyllids.
- Treat your citrus trees for the insect — Talk to your local home and garden center or nursery to learn about products that can help protect your tree from the Asian citrus psyllid.
- Inspect your trees for the disease — Look for signs of HLB each month or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees.
- Learn what to look for — Visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org to see pictures of the insect and HLB-infected trees. Report sightings by calling 1-800-491-1899.
- Plant responsibly — Only buy citrus trees from reputable, licensed California nurseries.
- Cooperate — Cooperate with agriculture officials on efforts to find and stop the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB.