State officials Thursday announced a quarantine in the Merced and Atwater areas for the Asian citrus psyllid, a threat to backyard and commercial trees.
The move followed the detection of a single psyllid in the city of Merced, the California Department of Food and Agriculture reported. It bars people from moving oranges, lemons and other citrus fruit out of the zone unless they remove the leaves and stems. Nursery plants also are restricted.
The announcement came a few days after the Modesto area was quarantined. Other zones include one around Oakdale, another from Keyes to north Delhi, and three around Manteca, Tracy and Lodi.
Psyllids can carry an incurable disease called huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening. Infected trees produce bitter, misshapen fruit and eventually die.
The disease has reduced the Florida citrus industry by 75 percent, an official said at a May hearing in Sacramento. The Northern San Joaquin Valley has few commercial groves, but psyllids could do major damage on citrus farms from Madera to Kern counties and in Southern California.
The latest quarantine covers 123 square miles. It stretches to Kenney Avenue on the north, West Dickenson Ferry Road on the south, Shaffer Road on the west and East Yosemite Avenue on the east.
All or part of 22 counties have psyllid quarantines. One in Monterey County also was announced Thursday.
People who believe they have found one can call 800-491-1899, the state’s pest hotline. The insect is 3 to 4 millimeters long and has a brown, mottled body. More information is at www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp.
John Holland: 209-578-2385