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US (CA): Residents concerned over greening treatments

Residents of California concerned over the possibility of continuing mass pesticide spraying for Asian psyllids have been reassured that it is unlikely.

State agricultural officials have told residents of Ventura County that, if they help prevent the spread of the pest, countrywide spraying may not be necessary.

Ted Batkin, president of the California Citrus Research Board in Visalia, said the board has found seven psyllids in the area, but none of them had been infected with citrus greening disease.

"The psyllid moves if you buy a tree," Batkin said. "If you live in Ventura County, don't go down to L.A. County and buy a tree. If people continue to do that, they will find psyllids."

The concerned residents still remember the mass spraying programme of 20 years ago, to control Mediterranean fruit fly. The residents who are concerned by this say that, back then, the spraying led to birds and bees being killed, as well as sickness amongst cats and dogs. They say people were often confined to their homes for hours at a time.

"Everything was sprayed," Batkin said. "A 100-plus-square-mile area every week. It's unlikely we'll ever (again) use aerial spraying. This would be a very different program if it has to happen."

The current programme involves spraying trees and soil around them, not blanket covering of whole areas.

Ventura County is the closest major citrus-producing area to Los Angeles, said Brett Chandler, president and general manager of the Associates Insectary in Santa Paula, which raises insects as a tool to eradicate destructive insects.

"You (the public) can stop this by not moving cuttings — leaves and twigs," Chandler said.

SOurce: www.vcstar.com

Publication date: 5/7/2012


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