A tiny insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid, is threatening to spread a disease which could severely damage citrus orchards world wide. Psyllids are known carriers of a disease called citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing). The disease spoils the affected crop for consumption, and then kills the infected trees. There is currently no known cure for citrus greening disease.

The LA Times has reported that, at this point, members of a multinational taskforce are attempting to limit populations of the offending psyllids, while gathering and sharing data about them and the citrus greening disease they may spread. Countries involved in this focused effort include: The United States, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

Citrus greening disease has already caused considerable damage to orchards in Florida. Outbreaks of the disease have also recently been reported in Louisiana, Belize and in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Populations of the psyllid are known to exist in Mexico and the southern U.S., although not all of the insects are found to be actual carriers of the disease.

Jim Cranney, president of the California Citrus Quality Council in Auburn, is quoted by LA Times as stating: "(Citrus greening disease) is like a wildfire with unlimited fuel, and all of our respective countries have to be prepared for when the wind starts blowing in our direction..."

The upshot for consumers? Be on the lookout for higher citrus prices nationwide.


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