Authorities are calling for a quarantine on citrus plants due to a bug that carries a tree-killing disease being found in Turlock.
On Oct. 26, it was confirmed that dangers of a small insect known as Asian citrus psyllids had been found on Turlock residential property located near Highway 99 and West Main Street.
“This is the first time that this insect has been found in Stanislaus County,” according to Dan Bernaciak, Stanislaus County Assistant Agriculture Commissioner. “This particular disease is 100% fatal to citrus trees.”
In response to the detection of two Asian citrus psyllids, the Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, are beginning an extensive survey and treatment program.
To establish the extent of the infestation, an increased number of yellow sticky panel traps are being placed in citrus trees in a 9 square mile area around the initial detection site. A treatment program will be carried out on all citrus host plants within 400 meters surrounding the site where the insects were trapped.
Residents in the treatment area will be notified in advance of any treatment.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture will soon establish a quarantine for all citrus plants and fruits within a five mile radius of the detection site, to prevent the movement of host material that may be affected. The upcoming prohibition of movement of host plants and fruits will apply to homegrown citrus and commercial citrus growers.
Although the Asian citrus psyllid is a very small insect, approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, it is of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB). All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected. The diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies. To date, HLB has been detected in the unincorporated area of Hacienda Heights and within the City of San Gabriel both within Los Angeles County.
“The Asian Citrus psyllid is a dangerous pest of citrus,” said Milton O’Haire, Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner. “We’re working to determine the full extent of this incident so that we can protect our state’s vital citrus industry as well as our backyard citrus trees.”
“With the public, the agricultural industry and government working together, we hope to prevent the harm this invasive species can cause.”
Though the disease kills trees, it is not harmful to people.
“We want to emphasize citrus fruit is safe to eat and the disease is not harmful to human health,” stated O’Haire.
Residents in the area who think they may have seen the pest are urged to call the Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899. For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease visit: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp.