Concerned About Arizona Citrus Quarantines?
When diseases that threaten to kill an entire crop appear on the radar, the uncertainty involved can cause unnecessary worry and stress. The arrival of the Asian citrus psyllid has caused just such concerns in parts of Arizona. Sightings of the bug have been reported in Maricopa County as well, so areas like Mesa and Gilbert AZ are on alert.
Officials have placed other parts of the state under quarantine, including Gila Bend and Yuma, where the little intruders first appeared, most likely via Mexico or California. The plan revolves around limiting the spread of the insect through local consumption of citrus products. The disease the insects carry, called citrus greening disease, can kill citrus trees, so homeowners with citrus trees need to take preventive pest control measures.
A major problem people have when trying to stop the spread of the psyllid comes from the size. The insect is tiny. It is about the size of an aphid, so homeowners may have trouble spotting it with the naked eye. When inspecting trees, you can use a magnifying glass to get a better look. If you do spot the psyllid or its eggs on one of your trees, you should report it immediately to get help.
Better yet, certain measures can help protect your trees from the insect in the first place. If you have access to a greenhouse and the ability to replant the trees, that is probably the safest idea. People without a permanent greenhouse can construct screens around their trees, although the screens do need to be of a very fine mesh and have proper ventilation to stop the bugs from getting in.
As of yet, scientists have failed to pinpoint one insecticide that will kill the psyllid in all its life stages. Each stage requires a particular type of pesticide to be effective. This makes monitoring, reporting and restricting the movement of citrus products essential in preventing further spread of the disease, also known as Huanglongbing.
For the time being, Arizona’s dry climate seems to have served as a sort of natural barrier against the insect. California and Florida, with their damper climates, have been hit particularly hard. In states like these that have significant citrus industries, the importance of keeping this bug and disease at bay goes beyond a few trees in someone’s back yard. Anyone dealing with citrus should remember to keep it local and keep their trees protected and inspected.
For more information about Arizona Citrus Quarantines visit www.SaveOurCitrus.org
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