Citrus-killing insect found in mid-Peninsula

The Asian citrus psyllid. Photo by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The only type of insect that carries a disease known to kill citrus trees has been found in Redwood City and Foster City, a county official said.

Two Asian Citrus Psyllids were discovered — one on Knightsbridge Lane in Redwood City on Feb. 1, and the other on Catamaran Street in Foster City on Jan. 23, said San Mateo County Agriculture Commissioner Fred Crowder.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid is an aphid-like insect that produces a toxin that can cause shoots of citrus trees to die or contort, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid is light brown and less than a quarter-inch long.

No trace of the disease — called citrus greening disease — has been detected in the area, but if the population of Asian Citrus Psyllids grows in the area, the risk of the disease will increase, Crowder said.

A tree infected by the disease will begin to decline in health and produce bitter and misshapen fruit until the tree ultimately dies, according to Crowder.

There is no danger to people who eat the fruit, other than experiencing a bad taste.

While the farms in San Mateo County don’t grow citrus, many neighborhoods in Redwood City have lemon trees, as do other cities along the mid-Peninsula.

In order to make sure the local citrus trees are safe from the disease that Asian Citrus Psyllids carry, Crowder said trees within a 164-foot radius from where the insects were found will be sprayed.

Crowder said his office will be in touch with residents whose trees need to be sprayed.

Who to call if you see bug If anyone sees a bug that looks like an Asian Citrus Psyllid, they should call the county’s office of agriculture at (650) 363-4700.