In March 2012, Huanglongbing (HLB) – a plant disease considered a death sentence for California citrus – was discovered in Los Angeles, putting homeowners on high alert. While not harmful to humans or pets, once a citrus tree is infected with HLB, there is no cure and it will die. The disease can be spread by a pest called the Asian citrus psyllid, and the pest has been found in Corona. The best way to protect citrus trees from the disease is to control the psyllid population.
The citrus industry and government leaders are aggressively working to contain the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid in Riverside County. For example, the California Department of Food & Agriculture places and closely monitors bug traps in residential trees. When psyllids are found, trees are treated free of charge. Additionally, the industry-funded Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program tests psyllids found on traps in a Riverside laboratory, which tested 5,088 plant samples and 12,192 insect samples in 2011 to closely monitor the spread of this pest and the occurrence of HLB.
While industry and government efforts are expanding to contain the Asian citrus psyllid and slow the spread of HLB, the ultimate solution lies with the residents who treasure their own backyard citrus. Help protect your backyard citrus trees by:
- Inspecting citrus trees for signs of the pest and disease each month or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees.
- Calling the California Department of Food & Agriculture hotline at 1-800-491-1899 if any suspicious pests or symptoms of HLB are found.
- Not bringing any plant material into California from other states or countries and not moving citrus plants out of quarantined areas, because they might be carrying psyllids or be infected with HLB.
- Only buying citrus trees from reputable, licensed California nurseries.
- Drying or double bagging plant clippings before placing in green waste recycle bins to avoid moving psyllids and HLB-infected plant material.
- Cooperating with agriculture officials on detection and suppression efforts of the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB.
For more information and to find out what to look for, visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.