JURUPA VALLEY – The Asian citrus psyllid has spread to Riverside County, and state agricultural officials said today they will start spraying small doses of insecticide to try to halt the spread of the insect and the devastating citrus tree disease that it spreads.
State Department of Food and Agriculture officials say emergency action is needed to protect California’s $2 billion per year citrus industry from enormous impact should the tree-killing pest spread”citrus greening disease” to commercial groves and backyard trees.
The state found the pest in a trap this month in Jurupa Valley, a semi- rural area northwest of Riverside. That’s about 30 miles east of Hacienda Heights, were similar bugs were found March 30 in a lemon tree that had been grafted with an infected pomello grafting.
The pomello branch was likely smuggled into the United States from Asia, agriculture experts have said. That infected tree has been destroyed and other trees are being sprayed from the ground with insecticide to try to retard transmission of the disease by the pest.
State officials have implemented quarantines in Hacienda Heights and Jurupa Valley, where people are instructed not to give away fruit or cuttings.
Agriculture agents will contact homeowners and spray small amounts of an insecticide called cyfluthrin to kill psyllids on contact. A second insecticide, imidacloprid, will be applied to soil beneath trees to control immature psyllids.
Residents of properties scheduled for treatment will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the application.
The pest sucks fluids out of citrus trees and in the process transmits the ”citrus greening disease,” formally called huanglongbing, It is considered one of the most deadly diseases of citrus in the world.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture scheduled an open house for Wednesday for Jurupa Valley residents to ask questions about the eradication program. It will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the West museum room of the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center, 7621 Granite Hills Drive.
People who want additional information can call the state’s pest hotline at (800) 491-1899.