What is Asian Citrus Psyllid?

1.9.17 – ACP? HLB? If you’ve heard these abbreviations, or their even-more-confusing full names, you might be trying to wrap your head around what people are talking about. Here’s a quick and dirty introduction to Asian citrus psyllid and HLB, and why you should care about it.

Asian Citrus Psyllid on a Leaf

What is ACP (and HLB) and why you should care?

The Asian citrus psyllid (aka “ACP”) is a small bug that eats the leaves and stems of citrus (orange, grapefruit, lemon, etc) trees. While the bug is not harmful to people, it is an efficient vector for spreading the bacterial citrus disease known as huanglongbing (aka “HLB”), previously called citrus greening disease, which is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus worldwide. Once a tree is infected with HLB, the quality of it’s fruit will deteriorate and the tree will eventually die.

A federal quarantine restricts all movement of citrus and Rutaceae (the citrus family of plants) into California in order to prevent introduction of the psyllid or the disease from outside the state. Currently the California Department of Food and Agriculture is working to eradicate HLB by tracking the presence of both the bug ACP and the disease HLB, and if necessary, establishing quarantines to prevent either from spreading. If the psyllid and the disease were to become established in California, the disease would devastate the citrus industry as well as kill backyard trees.

Close-up image of ACP pest

What is Food Forward doing about it?

Since we depend on the abundance of California’s citrus trees, Food Forward is committed to preventing the spread of ACP and HLB, and educating our community about the disease:

1) Educating homeowners about how to minimize the risk of disease spread by implementing the solarizing method.

2) Instructing volunteers to place leaves/stems of the citrus in a bag that is left to dry in a sunny, open area.

What is Solarizing?

Solarizing is the practice of packing citrus sticks, leaves, and twigs into a plastic trash bag and leaving the bag out in the sun until everything dries out completely. This effectively kills any psyllid pests that may be on the sticks or leaves.

Solarizing eliminates the potential for insect travel between different properties or while in transit. The psyllid lives on, consumes, and travels on the foliage. By leaving plant matter on site or solarizing it before it leaves the property, it reduces the potential spread of the disease.

Use a trash bag to kill ACP pests

What can YOU do?

If you have a citrus tree or are harvesting a friend’s:

1 – Pack all sticks, leaves, and twigs into a plastic trash bag.

2 – Let bag of foliage sit in the sun until everything is completely dried out.

3 – Dispose of foliage properly (use as mulch under trees, put in your yard waste bin, etc.)

4 – Recycle, reuse, or save the bag until the next harvest.

If you suspect your tree has the psyllid or the disease, please call the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture pest hotline at 800-491-1899.

Learn More:

Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program 

University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources ACP Distribution and Management site

More Fruit Tree Care Resources

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