aee9a35ccf4af6979a85ca58b9acf8c9
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

By now you may have heard about a new pest that was discovered last month in Orange County.

The tiny insect poses a very serious threat to California’s 1.6 billion dollar citrus industry, as well as to the thousands of us who grow citrus in our gardens.

Last month, state agricultural officials trapped five adult Asian citrus psyllids on a lemon tree growing in a Santa Ana garden. The discovery has triggered alarm throughout the state and caused some home citrus gardeners to worry.
 
Because of the discovery, on August 28 The California Department of Food and Agriculture placed all of Orange County under a quarantine that now regulates the movement of citrus fruits and plants. Psyllids (pronounced sillids) have also been discovered in part of Los Angeles, Riverside, Imperial and San Diego counties, with quarantines also in place in these areas as well.
 
What is this new pest and what does it mean?
 
Asian Citrus Psyllid
 
Asian citrus psyllids are tiny little insects, no bigger than 1/8 of an inch, about the size of most aphids, to which they are closely related. You’ll likely never see one, but this little sucking insect is only part of the problem anyway. The dilemma is that these little guys have the ability to carry and transmit a very fatal citrus disease.
 
Citrus greening disease is a bacterial ailment and is one of the world’s most feared citrus pathogens. Also called Huanglongbing, (meaning Yellow. Dragon in Chinese) it ruins the taste of the fruit and the juice before eventually killing the plants. There is no cure or method for treating a plant once it is infected with the disease. The bacterial disease is transmitted to healthy trees exclusively by the Asian citrus psyllid, after feeding upon an infected tree.
 
The good news is that, although the insect is present in a few locations in California, the disease is no closer than Louisiana or Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. But citrus greening disease has already ravaged groves in Florida and wiped out much of the citrus industries in China, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Brazil.
 
Louisiana and the Yucatan sound like a long way away, but not really. Experts believe the disease will first turn up on a backyard tree, not at a commercial grove. That’s what happened in Florida, and with the help of the psyllid, soon the entire state was plagued by the disease. If an infected tree is found it needs to be removed immediately, before it can be used as a reservoir to spread the disease around the state.
 
In Santa Ana, The California Department of Food and Agriculture is setting 100 traps per square mile in the area where the psyllids were found and 50 traps per square mile in an additional eight-square-miles.
 
What can you do? First, obey the citrus quarantine. Don’t move home grown citrus fruits, plants or foliage. Consume all your home grown citrus fruit at home. That means not packing oranges for a work lunch and not giving a few to relatives and friends to take home with them.
 
Second, cooperate with agricultural regulations involving the shipping or receiving of fruits and vegetables. California had a close call last month at a Fresno FedEx depot. An inspection dog found a package of curry leaves containing live Asian citrus psyllids in a bag from India. Tests revealed that the psyllids were infected with the citrus greening disease. If the psyllids had not been detected, this could have become the launch of the disease in California.
 
Finally, don’t panic. Don’t cut your lemon tree down and don’t begin spraying insecticides aimlessly. If you look carefully at your backyard citrus you’ll likely find numerous pests, including citrus leaf miner, whitefly, scale and others that you didn’t even know were there. These aren’t Asian citrus psyllids. To learn more about this particular insect and citrus greening disease visit www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/acp/index.html .
 
Questions from Readers September 5, 2009
Question:
 
When can I plant my sweet pea seeds, if I want to get early flowers?

Lynn, Costa Mesa

Answer:
I usually consider Labor Day as the official beginning of the sweet pea planting season, but in Orange County you can plant seeds successfully as late as January and started plants even later. If you want the earliest blooms however, maybe even by Christmas, look for varieties with the name “Elegance” in their names and plant right away. If you are planting several feet of sweet peas I suggest blending the Elegance varieties 50-50 with other main-season choices for the best show.
 
Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Articles about Insects, Diseases & Rodents (Click for Full List)

Canna Leaf Roller

Canna Leaf Rollers & Other Common Bugs

Summer has arrived in the south and the bright colors of the Cannas are everywhere.
Snails & Slugs
Insects, Diseases & Rodents Walter Andersen Nursery

Controlling Snails and Slugs in Your Garden

These pesky creatures can drive you crazy.

How to Prevent and Treat Powdery Mildew

2227 San Diego Seed Company
Brijette Peña
For any of us that grow close to the coast or in areas that get lots of morning dew or…

Life and Death Struggles at play in your Garden

3903 Ron Vanderhoff
Lady Bug Eating Aphids
Not long ago gardeners seemed to spend as much time controlling pests as they did any…

New Palm Pest Garnering Much Attention

4563 Ron Vanderhoff
Red Palm Weevil
Earlier this month I reported on the discovery in Laguna Beach of the world's most…

New Pest of Palms Discovered In Laguna Beach

6316 Ron Vanderhoff
Red Palm Weevil
Imagine the Southern California skyline without the presence of majestic date palms and…

New Pest Walking through the Garden

11133 Ron Vanderhoff
Walking Stick
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a Costa Mesa gardener.

No Need to Panic Over a Few Summer Pests

4352 Ron Vanderhoff
Rose Slugs
Summer is upon us. Not only are temperatures rising, but so is the likelihood of a few…

Oh My -- There's a Hideous Blob in my Garden

35911 Ron Vanderhoff
Slime Mold
If you are reading this while feasting on a scrambled egg breakfast, you may want to turn…

Sudden Oak Death Found in Presidio National Park

5931 The Mulch Team
Healthy Coastal Live Oak
SAN FRANCISCO — A coast live oak tree in Presidio National Park has been found infected…

Whack! Another Fig Beetle Lands in the Garden

23923 Ron Vanderhoff
Fig Beetle
During August, I often hear an approaching green fig beetle before I see it.

Featured Plant Care

Pruning Fruit Trees

Fruit Trees with No Fruit

in Edibles
Do you have a fruit tree in your garden, but no fruit in your garden?
Fig Monthly Plant Care

Fig Tree (Ficus carica) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Outdoor Plants Indoors

Growing an Outdoor Plant, Indoors

Working at a nursery, a common question is “can I grow this indoors”.
Default Image

Grevillea - Mountain (Grevillea alpina) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Shrubs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Edit Your Tagged Photos!

How to Edit or Remove A Plant "Tag" In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your…
Seed Starting

10 Easy Cut Flowers to Direct Sow

in Seeds
A cut-flower garden or "cutting garden" allows you to bring the beauty of your garden…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)