Huanglongbing is a vascular disease of citrus trees that is caused by the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect the size of an aphid.
Carried from Asia or India, the Asian citrus psyllid was first seen in Florida in 1998. The HLB disease was not identified until 2005. By 2014, huanglongbing (HLB) had caused $4.6 billion in damage to Florida's citrus crops. HLB is now found in California and Texas, as well as Florida.
HLB can kill a tree within 5 years of infection and there is no known cure at this time. Because of the threat to an entire food industry, infected trees must be destroyed.
Preventing the spread of HLB is critical to protecting citrus trees worldwide. In this effort, quarantines are in place that prohibit moving citrus fruit trees, leaves, and stems out of the quarantine area. Contact your county officials to see if you are in a quarantine zone. Looking at the maps below, you can see how a quarantine zone can change in just one year. Since the information to create these maps takes time to put together, you should assume that, if you live near any type of quarantine zone, you should act as though you are in it.
Signs of infestation and infection include:
Like other psyllids, the Asian citrus psyllid produces honeydew, which attracts ants and provides a growth medium for sooty mold. Ant traffic can be blocked with the use of sticky barriers.
Other ways you can prevent the spread of this disease:
If you suspect or see signs of the Asian citrus psyllid or Huanglongbing disease, immediately contact the CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE HOTLINE: 1‐800‐491‐1899.
Bloomberg reports that Florida citrus growers are now using dogs trained to sniff out the disease to help with early detection and to reduce the spread of this disease.
According to Farm Week Now, half of all Florida citrus growers have gone out of business because of this threat. Also, it is predicted that the 2018 Florida citrus crop will be only one-fourth of what it was 10 years ago. This threat is not to be taken lightly.
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