The devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB) was recently found in a residential citrus tree in Huntington Beach. An insect called the Asian citrus psyllid spreads the disease as it feeds on leaves.
Once a tree is confirmed with the disease, it will die and must be removed to limit its spread. Huntington Beach residents can play a critical role in stopping the spread of HLB by searching for signs of the pest and the disease on their trees.
The psyllid and HLB are an imminent danger to California's citrus. HLB has already been found in more than 1,000 residential citrus trees - including more than 600 detections in 2018 alone - across Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.
Residents should stay vigilant in looking for HLB symptoms, which include blotchy or yellowing leaves; yellow shoots. lopsided, small and bitter fruit, and premature and excessive fruit drop. Due to the quick nature of its spread and the recent detections of HLB in Southern California, all residents should avoid moving citrus from their property.
In addition to checking for and reporting HLB symptoms, California residents should also look for the psyllid as it can spread the disease when it feeds from tree to tree. The pest is brown, about one-eighth of an inch long, and feeds with its body at a 45-degree angle. Young psyllids are yellowish orange and produce a white, waxy substance that can be seen on leaves. Adults, juveniles and eggs are typically found on tender, new leaves.
The psyllid feeds on all citrus trees, including orange, lemon, lime, mandarin, pomelo, kumquat, grapefruit, tangerine and more. If you have any of these plants in your backyard, inspect them monthly, or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees.
While researchers are looking for a cure to HLB, right now the best way to protect against the disease is to stop the psyllid. The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program recommends the following actions:
The pest and disease are a death sentence for your backyard citrus and threaten the livelihood of California's backyard citrus. By working together, we can all save our citrus trees. Visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org for additional resources and more information.
City of Huntington Beach
Public Works Department
2000 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA
Phone: (714) 536-5431
Fax: (714) 374-1573