Asian citrus psyllids found in grove near Exeter

This is the 43rd time Asian citrus psyllid has been found by the Ag commissioner in Tulare County since it was first discovered there in 2012.
TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A tiny insect was found preying on unsuspecting citrus trees in Tulare County. Asian citrus psyllids were found on traps set out earlier this month in an area near Exeter.

"We got a lot of work ahead of us to make sure this population doesn't manifest itself into an endemic population," California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said.

Nelsen reminds us the pests carry a disease deadly to citrus plants. Huanglongbing or HLB destroys citrus.

"Unfortunately, our friends in Florida have lost the battle pretty much. They pulled out 250,000 acres of trees because of the disease," said Nelsen.

Photos from the California Department of Food and Agriculture show what infected plants look like. So far, only one tree in California has been infected by HLB. That's a statistic Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita hopes doesn't change.

"It might be tempting if your daughter wants to bring you a citrus tree from San Diego," she said.

But Kinoshita says those plants need to stay in Southern California. All citrus brought into the Valley have to be removed of all foliage to get rid of any possible psyllids.

"All we ask is that you send us our fruit, we'll pack it, but the leaf trash has got to stay put," said Kinoshita.

Growers and the government will continue to watch areas where the insects have been found. They'll also monitor the groves for any signs of HLB.

"It's an ongoing battle to stay ahead of the game," said Nelsen.

If you have citrus trees in your own yard, you're asked to monitor those trees and reach out to your local Ag commissioner. It can take several years before a tree infected with huanglongbing starts showing signs.

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