A dangerous pest was recently found in the City of Goleta. It’s called the Asian citrus psyllid, and it can be a carrier of Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease. To date, HLB has not been detected in Santa Barbara County, but if it takes hold, it will be deadly for citrus trees in the region.
Once trees are infected with HLB, they will eventually die, threatening not only the ability of homeowners to grow citrus in their backyards, but the Santa Barbara citrus economy. One of the best ways to prevent HLB from taking hold in Santa Barbara County is to stop the Asian citrus psyllid, which can transmit the disease from tree to tree as it feeds.
Everyone in the city is being asked to do their part. The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program and the Santa Barbara Agricultural Commissioner offer the following tips:
•Cooperate — Cooperate with agriculture officials on detection and suppression efforts of the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB.
•Don’t move citrus — Do not bring any citrus plant material into the city from other states or countries, or from Southern California or the Central Valley. Also, if you live in the areas surrounding recent detections, do not move citrus off your property, as you may be violating restricted areas set up by agriculture authorities.
•Inspect your trees — Look for signs of the pest and disease each month or whenever watering, spraying, pruning or tending trees.
•Learn what to look for — Visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org or using the Save Our Citrus app, which can be downloaded from the website.
•Plant responsibly — Only buy citrus trees from reputable, licensed California nurseries.
•Graft with care — Use only registered budwood with source documentation.
•Be mindful of clippings — Dry or double bag plant clippings prior to disposal to avoid moving psyllids and HLB-infected plant materials.
If you think you’ve found the psyllid or the disease, contact the local agricultural commissioner or call the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline at 800-491-1899.