Citrus centers urge residents to join in fight against pests

It's a pest that feeds on citrus leaves, but when coupled with a bacteria, a disease can spread and ruin entire citrus crops, costing South Texas over 85 million dollars.

Texas agriculture experts are keeping an eye on the critters to make sure that doesn't happen, and they are asking residents to keep an eye on their own citrus trees in their backyard too and keep these pesky critters under control.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid can carry a bacteria that causes the citrus greening disease.

The disease can eventually kill a citrus tree in three years.

"Once the tree gets infected, there's no way to basically cure the tree," said Mamoudou Setamou, Ph.D.

Setamou is an associate professor at the Texas A & M Kingsville Citrus Center in Weslaco.

Every day, researchers there test the psyllids for the bacteria.

These psyllids were first found in the U.S. in 1998 and by 2005, Florida had the first case of the disease killing a large area of crops.

Researchers at the citrus center said they want to prevent that from happening here in Texas.

Keeping the trees healthy is important they said because there's around 30 thousand acres of commercial citrus in South Texas which brings in around 85 million dollars a year to the area.

The citrus center has been working closely with growers in a program they call Area Wide Management of psyllids, but they also want residents who have citrus in their own backyard to join in on the fight against the psyllids.

"There are chemicals that are registered for home use that they can buy at Lowes, Home Depot or a nursery," said Setamou.

Citrus experts said there are also organic pesticides that can be used against the psyllids.

For more information contact the citrus center at: (956) 447-3360