Deadly Bacterial Disease Affecting Trees Found in Costa Mesa

A deadly bacterial disease was discovered last month on a Costa Mesa citrus tree, requiring the California Department of Food and Agriculture to quarantine the area around its location and collect samples, in hopes of stopping its spread.

The bacterial disease known as Huanglongbing is carried and transmitted through Asian citrus psyllid insects—which are small, brownish, and winged—feeding off a citrus tree’s leaves.

If found, removal of the tree is necessary.

“When a tree is infected, it’s like a death sentence and the tree will die,” Victoria Hornbaker, director of citrus pest and disease prevention at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, told The Epoch Times.

The department will now collect samples from all known citrus trees within 250 meters, and conduct mandatory preventative treatments, which involve insecticides both sprayed on the tree’s leaves and placed in the soil of its base.

Experts say such pesticides are safe for people and pets when applied correctly.

If the disease takes hold of a tree, its leaves and shoots may yellow, and it may fall lopsided and have premature and excessive fruit drop that is rancid tasting and smelly.

A five-mile quarantine surrounding the discovered tree is now in place—meaning residents or commercial business owners are prohibited from moving any citrus plants or trees outside the perimeter at this time. A map of the quarantine area can be found here.

Nearby residents will receive an invitation in the mail for a virtual public meeting on the issue.

According to experts the best way to stop the spread of the disease is to prevent the spread of the psyllid insects.

Residents are recommended to remove fruit stems and leaves and wash them thoroughly. Placing ant traps near citrus trees is also suggested as they are protectors of the insects.

The insects found carrying such bacteria were discovered in Southern California in 2012, with an infected tree also found the same year.

The first tree discovered with the disease in Orange County was in 2017 in Yorba Linda, according to officials.

Residents are urged to call 1-800-491-1899 with any questions.

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