Updated: Asian Citrus Psyllids Spreading In California

UPDATED: The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has placed all of Orange County under a quarantine regulating the movement of citrus and closely-related plants as of Friday, August 28.


The quarantine follows the detection of a number of Asian citrus psyllids in Santa Ana. CDFA is working with the USDA and county officials and growers to implement the quarantine in an effort to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid in California.

Tests on the psyllids detected in Orange County were negative for the huanglongbing disease.

“We are taking this preventive measure to stop the spread of this pest and protect our citrus crops,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “This pest can carry a very serious disease that has the potential to cripple citrus plants beyond repair, so we are moving swiftly with this preventive measure to quarantine the area where the pest was found.”

The quarantine area is comprised of approximately 800 square miles covering all of Orange County.

All harvested citrus in the quarantine area must be commercially cleaned and packed before it can be moved out of the area. Nursery host plants may not be moved out of the quarantined area and the movement of cut greens, green waste and citrus fruit will be regulated and enforced by federal, state and county quarantine officials. Residents are urged to consume back yard citrus fruit at home and to refrain from transporting their back yard citrus, as well as citrus plants, out of the area.

A treatment program for the Santa Ana area is still being developed. A public meeting to discuss details of the treatment has yet to be scheduled.


Also last week, a parcel inspection dog named Tassie, working for the Sacramento County Department of Agriculture, found approximately 100 Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) in a package in Sacramento.

The citrus pests were detected in a package containing Guavas and curry leaves. The parcel originated in Texas and was not inspected locally prior to shipment.

In July, a sniff dog working for the Fresno County Department of Agriculture detected curry leaves in a duffle bag and an inspection revealed ACP.

Currently, six teams (one handler and dog per team) are operating out of five counties: Contra Costa (two teams), Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Bernardino. Four additional teams will be trained in a 10 week course this fall and should be functioning in by early spring 2010. The new teams will operate out of Los Angeles County (two teams), Santa Clara County, and San Diego County.

For a picture of Tassie the sniff dog and her handler, visit: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/invasives/


Just one day after five Asian citrus psyllids were detected in traps in the Southern California city of Santa Ana, which is located in Orange County, one of the feared pests was found in a trap in the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles. These are the first times the pest has been trapped north of San Diego and Imperial counties.

The detections will trigger quarantines. Until the quarantines can be established, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will restrict movement of regulated plant material, including host plants, at wholesale and retail nurseries within five miles of the finds. Additionally, CDFA is planning a treatment program and is trapping and surveying in the areas to attempt to detect additional psyllids.

"The Asian citrus psyllid is a dangerous pest of citrus, and its recent spread is urgent," said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. "We’re doing all we can pinpoint the full extent of the problem and protect our state’s vital citrus industry."

The pest is of grave concern because it can carry the disease Huanglongbing (HLB), which is also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected. The diseased tree will decline in health until it dies. HLB has not been detected on trees in California.

The state of Florida first detected the pest in 1998 and the disease in 2005, and the two have now been detected in all 30 citrus producing counties in that state. The pest and the disease are also present in Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina. The states of Texas, Mississippi and Alabama have detected the pest but not the disease.

For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing disease visit: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/acp/