Asian citrus psyllid causes precautionary quarantine in southern Fresno County

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An insect that carries a disease deadly to citrus trees could be in Fresno County. (KFSN)

An insect that carries a disease deadly to citrus trees could be in Fresno County. A precautionary quarantine of several farms was issued Thursday on the southern end of Fresno County.

The tiny bug that farmers call ACP hasn't been found in Fresno County since 2013. But parts of Tulare County are seeing patches of large infestations, which could spread a disease that kills citrus trees.

A bug so tiny, it's almost undetectable with the naked eye. But don't underestimate this disease-carrying insect. The Asian citrus psyllid is capable of destroying an entire state of citrus trees.

"Very devastating. [In] Florida, half the acreage has gone out of production; probably they will be a non-citrus producing state within the next 10 years," said Nick Hill, a Dinuba farmer and chairman of the California Disease Pest and Prevention Committee.

The tiny insect can carry a disease called huanglongbing, according to Hill. Infected trees still produce fruit but the citrus become bitter and unmarketable. The trees eventually die from a lack of nutrition. A breeding population of ACP was found in Tulare County, which is why Fresno County is taking steps to make sure it doesn't spread here.

"It's an extra cost, it's extra management, but we want to ensure that the citrus industry survives in the next 20 or 30 years," said Hill.

Hidden in a citrus tree you'll see a government insect trap up there. It has a film on it that attracts the Asian citrus psyllid and they'll move them every couple of weeks to see if the bug is in the area.

The pest hasn't yet been found in the county, but the expansion of the Fresno County quarantine mandates farmers to spray down their produce when they move their citrus.

According to Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Melissa Cregan, anyone with a citrus tree should be on the lookout for the pest. She said, "If it were to move more into Fresno County, we'd be looking at an expanded quarantine area. We could also be looking at treatments in residential areas."

The bug likes to feed on the leaves and shoots on trees. There are ways to see if you could have the pest in your own backyard, and you can find that information at californiacitrusthreat.org.

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agricultureag watchfresno countyFresno - Southeast
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