Insect that spreads disease deadly to citrus trees found in California

A tiny bug that carries bacteria deadly to citrus trees was recently detected in California.

The Asian citrus psyllid was found in Tulare County, at the center of the state’s citrus belt. The insect was the second found in the San Joaquin Valley, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The insect, which was caught in a trap set by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, was in too poor of condition to be tested for the bacteria that causes citrus greening, Candidatus Liberibacter. So far, none of the surrounding trees have shown symptoms associated with the bacteria, including turning ripe fruit green.

Citrus greening also is known as huanglongbing and most likely originated from China in the 1900s, according to the USDA.

The disease already has hit Florida, another citrus growing state hard, and “poses the most serious threat that the Florida citrus industry has ever faced,” according to the USDA.

The psyllid was first detected in California in 2008. Almost 43,000 reports (some had multiple psyllids) have been documented in Southern California since. However, none have tested positive for the bacteria or were too dried out to test, according to the Chronicle.

Once infected, trees die after five to eight years and hardly ever produce viable fruit, according to USDA.

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