KINGSBURG – Spraying will take place south of Kingsburg after a pest was found that’s devastating the citrus industry in other parts of the state and world.

Officials with the California Department of Food and Agriculture reported that an Asian citrus psyllid was found Jan. 9 and that spraying on the leaves and surrounding ground of the affected plants will take place.

The pest was found in an area bounded by Avenue 384 to the north, south Seventh Avenue to the west, Denver Avenue to the south and Road 28 to the east. A stretch of property along South Fifth Avenue, between Chico and Clinton avenues, will be treated.

In a CDFA official notice, the infestation is described as isolated and that a treatment plan would take place within a 160-foot to 2,620-foot radius of each detection site.

No specific timeframe was posted in the notice, however nearby residents are to be notified in writing at least 48 hours in advance of the spraying treatment. Afterward, residents would be notified about precautions and how to harvest fruit later.

Citrus plants within the perimeter of the spray area will be treated with Merit 2F, or CoreTect, which controls the immature life stages of the bug. This is applied to the soil beneath plants.

Tempo, a contact insecticide that controls the population, will also be used and applied to the leaves of the plants by hydraulic spray equipment.

In April 2016, the pest was also found inside the city limits of Selma and spraying took place at that time as well. The psyllids have previously been found in Orange Cove, Easton and other Fresno County locations as well, Fresno County Deputy Ag Commissioner Melissa Cregan said during a public informational meeting. The pests have been found around the globe from Asia to South America and in the United States from California to Florida.

Cregan said that if the pest goes untreated, it could lead to the removal of trees and entire orchards which would have a significant negative effect on the income of local citrus farmers.

“If the [ACP] population explodes, there won’t be a way for homeowners to band together to treat it,” Cregan said.

Ag officials will continue using yellow panel traps to detect the pests. Counties with substantial commercial citrus production that are not generally infested with the pest have one trap per 40 acres of citrus groves. If areas are infested, ag inspectors visually survey the groves and collect the bugs to test for the bacterial disease known as Huanglongbing that results from the pest.

The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program urges residents and farmers to inspect their citrus plants for the Asian citrus psyllid and resulting diseases. The pest is most noticeable when new leaves are growing on the tips of the branches. Adult Asian citrus psyllids are small, brown pests that feed on citrus leaves with their body at a 45-degree angle. Young Asian citrus psyllids, called nymphs, produce a white, waxy substance to direct honeydew away from their bodies.

If you suspect Asian citrus psyllid are on your citrus, or have questions, contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture at (800) 491-1899.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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