Media Contacts: Jay Van Rein, CDFA Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462, Larry Hawkins, USDA, (916) 930-5509 , Robert Atkins, San Diego County Ag Commissioner, (858) 692-9264
SACRAMENTO, August 29, 2008 - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are announcing a presumptive positive detection of a single Asian citrus psyllid in San Diego. According to federal regulations, before the identification is final, it must first be verified by a USDA entomological laboratory in Washington D.C. The specimen is being sent there.
The insect was found in a trap in a citrus tree - approximately 11 miles north of the international border with Mexico, near Sweetwater Reservoir. Inspectors will spend the holiday weekend setting and checking traps, and conducting visual surveys in the area in an attempt to detect additional Asian citrus psyllids. As this project moves forward, CDFA and the USDA will work in partnership with the San Diego County agricultural commissioner and the citrus industry to protect against the pest.
A single detection of this pest triggers a quarantine, so confirmation by the USDA would set that process in motion. In the interim, CDFA will restrict movement of host plants at wholesale and retail nurseries within five miles of the find site.
"The Asian citrus psyllid is a dangerous pest of citrus," said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. "We must move quickly to identify the full extent of the infestation and do all we can to protect our state’s citrus industry."
The pest is of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB). 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.
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. The states of Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama have detected the pest but not the disease.
There is no indication that the Asian citrus psyllid detected in San Diego carried HLB. But it will be tested to make sure. A population of the pest just south of the international border, in Tijuana, is not carrying the disease.
For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease visit: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/acp/