Mild winters impacting how a potentially deadly citrus bug is spreading

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California's mild winters could be impacting how a potentially deadly citrus bug is spreading.

Fresno State Professor of Entomology Dr. Jorge Gonzalez shows us where Asian Citrus Psyllids like to gather on citrus trees. The potentially deadly bug known also as ACP -- can kill citrus trees if carrying the disease huanglongbing. The US department of Agriculture and county Ag officials have been tracking the insects spread across California and have found dozens. The latest find was in Visalia.

"This is becoming more common and common the finding of the Asian Citrus Psyllid," said Dr. Gonzalez. "What happened is they have been able apparently to overcome the winter."

Dr. Gonzalez says over the last several years, since the ACP has been found here locally, central and southern California have experienced relatively warm winters. Gonzalez says cold weather can help kill off the bugs.

"The populations are going to be very low but with very wild winters we are looking like a tropical area," said Dr. Gonzalez.

ACP has become so prevalent here in the Central Valley that Dr. Gonzalez is educating his students about this tiny insect. He even carries around several of the tiny bugs -- which have wiped out thousands of citrus orchards in other parts of the country, including Florida, in a vile in his pocket to show students, since many of them will end up working on farms.

Dr. Gonzalez says despite efforts by government agencies to enforce quarantines and other restrictions, he thinks Asian Citrus Psyllids will be commonly found across the Central Valley in the coming years.

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