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Asian citrus psyllid found in Tulare County

Associated Press Modified: November 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A tiny pest capable of carrying and spreading a disease deadly to citrus trees has been found in the heart of California's citrus belt, agriculture officials said Monday.

An Asian citrus psyllid was discovered in a commercial citrus orchard near Strathmore, southeast of Visalia, Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita said.

The insect was identified Friday on a trap pulled from a tree by workers for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, she said.

The psyllid was not in suitable condition to be tested for the bacteria that causes the disease, California Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman Steve Lyle said.

Trees in the area did not show any signs of the disease, and the department intends to deploy additional traps and survey other nearby citrus trees, he said.

It's only the second psyllid found in the San Joaquin Valley. The first was discovered in February in Tulare County, about four miles away. It also was not suitable for testing.

Many other psyllids have been found in Southern California.

Thus far, none of the psyllids have tested positive for the deadly bacteria known by its Chinese name Huanglongbing and also called citrus greening.

The state considers testing every psyllid found in a trap but many are too dry — so the state does not know if those psyllids carried Huanglongbing, Lyle said.

The disease has decimated the citrus sector in Florida and other parts of the world, but it hasn't touched California's $1.8 billion industry.

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