(July 24) Teams of U.S. Department of Agriculture and California Department of Food and Agriculture officials remain on high alert in the wake of the discovery of a pest that could imperil the state’s citrus industry.

“The vigilance is way up,” said Jay Van Rein, a spokesman for the state agency, regarding the psyllid discovery in Tijuana, Mexico.

In late June and early July, researchers with the international division of the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service trapped more than 100 Asian psyllids within 2 miles of the California border. It marked the first time the psyllid, a pest that can carry the citrus greening bacterial disease, also known as huanglongbing or HLB, was discovered in extreme northern Mexico.

“The outreach effort is well under way,” Van Rein said. “The good news is that there have been no detections of the insect or of the disease in California.”

When the first psyllids were discovered in Tijuana, the federal and state departments immediately ramped up their efforts, Van Rein said. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service increased the number of traps south of the border.

“The Department of Food and Agriculture already runs a lot of traps in that lower San Diego County area for other pests,” Van Rein said. “Wherever the staff is hanging a trap for a fruit fly or other pest, they’ve been instructed to add a trap for the psyllid whenever they run into a potential host tree.”

Those host trees are citrus and closely related ornamentals, he said.

State and federal officials have met with growers and grower representatives to outline the steps being taken to monitor the psyllid, Van Rein said.

To enlist the aid of homeowners, California citrus industry leaders held a news conference in San Diego to spread the word that trees in urban areas could attract the pest and urged residents to keep an eye out for the insect, he said.

The Citrus Research Board, Visalia, Calif., has established a homeowner-targeted Web site at www.californiacitrusthreat.org. It provides photographs and tips to assist homeowners in inspecting trees in their yards. The research board is asking that residential trees be inspected at least once a month.

A citrus tree infected with the bacterial disease will eventually die, said Ted Batkin, president of the research board.

“There is no known cure,” he said.