Southern California environment news and trends

Eco-wars: Inland Empire vs. the Asian Citrus Psyllid

Photo courtesy the CA Department of Food and Agriculture

Adult Asian citrus psyllid

No, it’s not a new underground sci-fi horror movie. This very real environmental showdown rages on in the Inland Empire, where tiny bugs are threatening the local citrus economy. It’s gotten dire enough that the California Department of Food and Agriculture is calling it an emergency situation.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid carry a disease known as Huanglongbing (AKA citrus greening), and once a tree contracts it, there is no cure. Already spotted in the cities of Banning and Cabazon earlier this month, the battle against the insects is in full swing. The good guys are bringing in a wide variety of weapons to throw at them, from insecticides to another bug.

Tiny wasps known as tamarixia radiata disrupt the lifecycle of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, so they’ve brought some in from Pakistan and released them in almost 70 areas between Los Angeles to Riverside.