Homeowners being asked to be on the look out for a pest that can kill their trees

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Homeowners with citrus trees in their yard are being asked to be on the lookout for a pest which can kill their trees.

Experts believe Asian Citrus Psyllids are out laying eggs in some citrus trees right now. The pest has already devastated the citrus industry in Florida. Growers fear the Valley may be next.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid or ACP is public enemy number one at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter. Entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell said it's important the public joins the fight. Your orange or lemon trees at home could be harboring a pest capable of decimating the Valley citrus industry. "Basically, you just look really closely with any kind of magnifying device you have and look to see if you can find any insects on there."

The nymphs are the size of sesame seeds but one of the tell-tale signs is white waxy build-up they produce. ACP can carry a disease called Huanglongbing, which does not have a cure. "The fruit falls off the tree really easily, and, if you taste an HLB-infected piece of fruit, the juice just tastes awful. It almost tastes like gasoline," said Grafton-Cardwell.

State crews have sprayed trees in Valley locations where ACP has been discovered. The disease has been found in a dozen Southern California trees. Grafton-Cardwell figures Valley trees will ultimately get infected. "HLB is going to come. We fully expect it to come up here because it rides in the bodies of the psyllids."

Homeowners can do their part in containing the spread of ACP. The psyllids are drawn to the new growth. "At this time of year they're really concentrating their attention on laying eggs on the new flush, and so, it's much easier to find the psyllids," said

Researchers in riverside are raising wasps which feed on ACP. The Tamirixia Radiata will be released in some Bakersfield neighborhoods to aid in the fight.

If you do happen to spot ACP in your citrus trees you can contact your county ag commissioner's office for treatment.
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