A deadly plant disease that has devastated citrus groves in parts of Florida, and Texas, in addition to residential trees in Southern California, was recently found in a tree in Long Beach. The Asian citrus psyllid is an invasive insect that causes an incurable plant disease called Huanglongbing. Through this disease, the insect can devastate citrus crops, which are a $3.4 billion industry in California, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
The Asian citrus psyllid was first spotted in Southern California in 2008, near the Mexican border, and it made its way to the Los Angeles basin four years later. The state responded by issuing a quarantine for portions of L.A., Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, meaning no fruit, limbs or leaves from a citrus tree could be taken out of or into the designated areas, said Victoria Hornbaker, director of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Division for the Food and Agriculture Department.
The insect and disease it can carry is relatively new to Long Beach, Hornbaker tells presstelegram.com. However, the recent discovery of citrus plant material that tested positive for the disease at a private residence required the quarantine boundary to extend 5 miles farther south into the city. It was the first extension in some time. Under quarantine rules, only fruit that has been commercially cleaned and packed can be moved.