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The San Benito County agricultural commissioner, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture, has begun an extensive survey and treatment program in response to the detection of one Asian citrus psyllid in the city of Hollister.

One female Asian citrus psyllid was confirmed on April 11. A treatment program will be carried out on all citrus host plants within 100 meters surrounding the site where the insect was trapped.  Residents in the treatment area will be notified in advance.

The pest is of “grave concern,” according to the ag commissioner’s office because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB).  All citrus and closely related species such as curry trees 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 and produce bitter, misshapen fruit until it dies. To date, HLB has only been detected in one backyard tree and one psyllid sample in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles County.

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 the state of Florida. The pest and disease are also present in Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas.  The states of Mississippi, Arizona and Alabama have detected the pest but not the disease.

“The Asian Citrus psyllid is a serious pest to citrus,” the ag commissioner’s office said in a press release. “Not only is it a threat to agriculture but to the individuals with citrus in their own yards. We want to emphasize citrus fruit is safe to eat and the disease is not harmful to human health. Controlling populations of the Asian citrus psyllid is critical to controlling the spread of the disease.

Residents can help by inspecting their trees for signs of the Asian citrus psyllid and by cooperating with the agricultural crews. This can be accomplished by allowing them to access your property to look for and treat for the pest. Residents in the area who think they may have seen the pest are urged to call the Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.  

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