Both the Stanislaus County Agriculture Commissioner and a member of the California Department of Food and Agriculture were on hand Tuesday night, Jan. 19 to update Oakdale City Council members on the current threat of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, ACP, a pest recently located in the city.
According to Ag Commissioner Milton O’Hara, the Asian citrus psyllid is a small insect that feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus trees. The insect is extremely dangerous because it can transmit a disease known as “huanglongbing” that is fatal for citrus.
One of the pests was captured last month in Oakdale by Ag officials. In November, one also turned up in a Turlock trap.
Victoria Hornbaker of the California Department of Food and Agriculture said the state regularly puts out traps to detect pests that can threaten area crops.
“We put most of our traps in urban areas,” Hornbaker said. “These traps, in which people allow us to use their property, can be out for up to six weeks.”
The ACP is approximately one-eighth of an inch long, about the size of an aphid. It feeds at a 45-degree angle, making the pest appear almost thorn-like on leaves and stems.
“Telltale signs are white, waxy tubules – like honeydew –that are from the nymphs (juveniles) that appear on the trees,” Hornbaker said.
The Asian citrus psyllid was first detected in California in 2008 and is now confirmed throughout much of the state, mostly in Southern California, but has been seen in the Central Coast, the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area.
Hornbaker said when the pest is found, quarantines are put in place to restrict the movement of citrus plants and plant clippings in order to limit spread of the pest.
The Los Angeles basin is considered “infested” and quarantines are currently in place. A five-mile radius around Oakdale and Turlock are also in place in order to limit spread of the ACP.
“We’re trying to eradicate, but due to problems in the state, it’s more of a control problem,” Hornbaker said.
The ACP can fly short distances and be carried by the wind. However, a main way it moves throughout the state is by people transporting infested plants or plant material known as “hitchhiking.”
Hornbaker said not to move citrus plants from one county to another and to only purchase citrus trees from reputable, licensed nurseries in the area.
When the ACP was found in Florida it created a $3 billion loss in the citrus industry for the state.
Tom Orvis, Chairman of the Stanislaus County Agriculture Board, added that agriculture in the county is a $16 billion industry, the sixth largest in the US. Orvis said that the county doesn’t have a large citrus industry and, though the Asian citrus psyllid has been found in the area, the huanglongbing virus has not.
Officials asked that anyone with suspicions of ACP presence or for more information to contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline at 1-800-491-1899.