State and federal inspectors have found Asian citrus psyllid in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina on residential citrus plants.
As a result, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working closely with state agriculture departments to survey and determine how widespread the infestations are, according to an alert from the North American Plant Protection Organization.
They will look at residential properties, commercial citrus groves and nurseries.
So far, the Asian citrus psyllid has been confirmed in Baldwin County, Ala.; Glynn, Chatham and McIntosh counties, Ga.; Hancock County, Miss.; and Charleston County, S.C.
APHIS and state inspectors will issue emergency action notices to nurseries where psylla are found to prevent movement of infested plants.
The Asian citrus psyllid is the main vector of citrus greening, also called Huanglongbing, or HLB. The disease is endemic to Florida and also has been found in a single citrus tree in Orleans Parish, La.
The citrus greening bacterium is harmless to humans, but it can significantly reduces citrus yields, eventually killing the tree.
Meanwhile, inspectors continue to delimit an area east of San Diego to determine the extent of an infestation of Asian citrus psyllid in residential citrus trees. The pest was confirmed in Tijuana, Mexicojust across the borderearlier this summer.
In addition, teams of insect scouts are fanning out across the Texas Rio Grande Valley on a year-long, door-to-door search for psyllid and greening.
Starting in the Mission and McAllen areas, 28 employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will knock on doors valley-wide, asking homeowners' permission to inspect their citrus trees, says John da Graca, director of the Texas A&M-Kingsville Citrus Center in Weslaco.
So far, psylla have been found on citrus in 36 Texas counties, da Graca said in a university press release. They include counties throughout southern Texas, as well as eastern Texas, in Houston and in College Station.
Samples will be collected from any tree with psylla to determine whether the insects or plant is infected with the deadline citrus greening disease.
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