The tiny bug in the photo above, called Asian citrus psyllid, could threaten the health of Arizona's $37 million citrus industry. The aphid-like insect, which can be smaller than the tip of a ballpoint pen, can carry citrus greening disease, which is fatal to citrus trees and has already devastated groves and wiped out farmers in Florida.
For now, only the bug (but not the disease) has been found in Arizona. And to prevent the spread of the bug, the Arizona Department of Agriculture has put a quarantine on citrus from some parts of the state. Last week, a small part of Gila Bend became the first part of Maricopa County to be placed under quarantine.
There are now 22,677 square miles in Arizona affected by the quarantine. In addition to the quarantine in Gila Bend, portions of Santa Cruz to Yuma to Mohave Counties are also affected.
All quarantined areas in Arizona right now are outlined in blue on the map below:
Citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing, isn't harmful to people or animals, but the Arizona Department of Agriculture is asking the public to help contain the bug.
Here are a few ways the Arizona Department of Agriculture says you can help:
- Buy citrus fruit locally and purchase plants through local nurseries and garden center
- Never take citrus plants, unclean fruit, or citrus plant parts out of the quarantine area
- Don't bring citrus fruit, leaves or plants with you from other states or countries as you travel
- Don't graft citrus budwood or clippings from sources that have not been tested for citrus diseases