Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) is an invasive, aphid-like insect pest. Although the psyllid (SIL-lid) is not a serious problem by itself, it can transmit a devastating bacterial disease to citrus trees. Known as Huanglongbing (HLB), the disease ruins the taste and appearance of citrus fruit, and eventually kills infected trees. There is no treatment or cure for Huanglongbing (wong-long-BING), and all commercially valuable varieties of citrus are vulnerable. The pest and disease have devastated Florida’s citrus industry, and could destroy Ventura County’s within a decade if not controlled.
The potential threat posed by ACP and the disease it transmits goes well beyond commercial citrus production and the jobs, income and tax dollars it generates. Tens of thousands of trees in residential yards are also at risk. They too will die if infected with HLB, meaning that an iconic element of the suburban Southern California landscape – the backyard orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit or tangerine tree – also might disappear from Ventura County.
Since ACP first showed up in Ventura County in 2010, it has spread widely, despite an aggressive campaign to
eradicate and suppress it. The entire county is now regarded as generally infested, given that the pest
has been found in urban plantings in every city as well as in commercial orchards in every production area.
Because there is still no known cure or treatment for the disease, the only way to attack it is by suppressing
and slowing the spread of its vector, ACP. This will buy time for the global research effort that's seeking
to find a cure or treatment for the disease, or to develop citrus varieties that are tolerant, resistant
or immune to it.
Although the disease has not yet been detected in Ventura County, it has been found several areas in Los Angeles County, and there is strong evidence it has spread to other parts of Southern California. The likelihood that it will soon begin moving throughout the state has united urban residents and commercial growers in a desperate battle to save our citrus.
Locally, the campaign is being guided by the Ventura County ACP-HLB Task Force.Links