By Vicky Boyd, Editor
Tassie has a nose for trouble.
The agricultural sniff dog hit on a package at a north Sacramento, Calif., Fed-Ex facility this week that contained about 100 live Asian citrus psylla nymphs and adults, says Frank Carl, Sacramento County agricutlure commissioner.
The pests were found on leaves of curry, a member of the citrus family.
Samples of the pest and plant material were sent to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for testing for citrus greening, a lethal citrus disease that the psyllid can carry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be questioning the Texas resident who shipped the package.
Carl says his department questioned the intended recipient.
"He expressed surprise that there was plant material in the shipment," Carl says. The person told Carl's office he was expecting a machine part.
Nevertheless, Carl says CDFA will hang additional traps around the residence just in case the person received earlier shipments that contained plant material.
At the same time, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has quarantined all of Orange County for Asian citrus psyllid.
The action was prompted when traps recently picked up five psylla. None of the psyllid tested positive for citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing or HLB.
Under the quarantine, movement of host plants or plant material is restricted.
This is the second time in about a month that sniff dogs, working with human handlers, have detected Asian citrus psylla in packages. In July, a dog working for the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner's department detected curry leaves infested with psylla in a duffle bag.
That package originated from India and was transshipped.
Currently, six teams—one handler and dog per team—are operating in five counties: Contra Costa (two teams), Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego and San Bernardino.
Four additional teams will be trained in a 10 week course this fall and should be working by early spring 2010. The new teams will operate in Los Angeles County (two teams), Santa Clara County and San Diego County.