NOGALES, Ariz. –U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Nogales commercial facility intercepted a significant citrus pest, an Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) (Kuwayama), while inspecting a shipment of oranges from northern Mexico last week.
Asian citrus psyllid is capable of transmitting the bacteria that causes citrus greening disease. While not all Asian citrus psyllids carry the disease, Mexico is known to have both Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening disease.
Ten years ago Citrus Greening disease first appeared in Florida and within years it devastated the state’s groves. Production of fresh table fruit has dropped drastically as the disease causes the trees to produce small, misshapen fruit with little sugar production. Eventually the tree dies.
“This interception is significant because Citrus Greening disease is considered one of the most serious diseases for citrus,” said Agriculture Program Manager Tracy Filippi. “Other than tree removal, there is no effective cure for the disease, so the potential for widespread damage from the presence of this insect can be very high.”
A U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist confirmed the identity of the Asian citrus psyllid on Wednesday. Further testing on this particular insect revealed that it did not carry the bacteria for citrus greening disease.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.