A dangerous pest that is threat to Los Angeles' many citrus trees has been spotted in Highland Park, according to the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture.
The pest is called the Asian citrus psyllid, and it is confirmed to be in Imperial, San Diego, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, which has sparked quarantines in those areas, according to a press release distributed by the Dept. of Food and Agriculture.
The pest can be a carrier of a fatal tree disease, called Huanglongbing, also known as HLB or citrus greening disease, the press release continued. While not harmful to human health, HLB destroys the taste of citrus fruit and juice, along with the production, appearance and value of citrus trees. Once a tree is infected with the disease, there is no cure and the tree will eventually die.
The Asian citrus psyllid found in Highland Park were not found to be carrying the disease, according to the Dept. of Agriculture, but local homeowners are asked to be vigilant in checking their citrus trees for the insect.
Currently, treatment of the pest is happening throughout Los Angeles by the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture. Residents may be asked to allow a yellow sticky trap to be placed in their trees or for their trees to be treated for the pest, the press release said.
Katie Rowland, an outreach consultant for the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program, said the psyllid was fist spotted in Highland Park in 2010.
"The Asian citrus psyllid originally reached California in 2009, and was discovered in Highland Park in May 2010. Since then the California Department of Food and Agriculture has been trapping in the area," Rowland said. "It is unclear exactly how the Asian citrus psyllid reached Highland Park. The psyllid can spread by the transportation of infested plants or plant parts, which is why a quarantine has been implemented in any county where the psyllid is found. Also, the Asian citrus psyllid can fly, so it can spread itself gradually."
Rowland said the Dept. of Food and Agriculture is aware of two specific areas in Highland Park and Hermon where the psyllid was recently spotted; the first was near the intersection of Ave. 60 and Echo Street in May of 2010 and later near the intersection of Monterey Road and Via Marisol.
She added that, though trapping would be taking place, residents could take the following steps to assist Dept. of Food and Agriculture with the quarantine.
- Inspect your citrus trees each month or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees. It is especially important to inspect during active growth or flushing.
- Plant only certified, disease-free trees from reputable nurseries.
- Do not bring any plant material into California from other states or countries and don't move citrus plants out of quarantined areas, because they might be carrying psyllids.
- Dry or double bag plant clippings before putting them in green waste recycle bins to avoid moving psyllid.
- Cooperate with agriculture officials on detection and treatment of the Asian citrus psyllid.