Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Last week it was the light brown apple moth that came under the scrutiny of the California State Department of Food and Agriculture. Seems that these moths think that California Apples are better than Australian apples and have started to move in on the territory. The agriculture industry was up in arms, with all kind of alerts being issued. Well, that was last week. I noted in the newspaper yesterday that the powers that be aren't quite as sure as they were earlier that this dreaded pest is all that it is cracked up to be. Like everything else, there is a rush to news of any kind, and then comes the correction, or the disclaimer, or the sending of the spin in another direction. So who can believe what they read?

But now a new pest has arrived, according to today's paper, that is stealing the thunder from the light brown apple month. And here it is:

Yep, its the Asian citrus psyllid! Now apparently the psyllid itself is not a danger. But the problem comes when it is found to be carrying the disease Huanglongbing, otherwise known as Citrus greening disease. These little psyllids are only 3-4 mm in length, which in my language equates to about 1/8". (Jerry and I had a major discussion about the metric system as a result of my asking him about how many inches 3-4 mm is. He is one of the old school nerds who still believes that our country would be better off if we all changed our thinking to metric, so actually I was sorry that I asked him and finally went on line to get my answer!) Anyway, this bug (called an aphid-like insect in the newspaper article) was discovered in a duffle bag at a Fed-Ex facility in Fresno. They don't know yet whether it is Huanglongbing-infected but all the citrus growers are on edge awaiting the outcome. Quarantines are expected.

I'm all for keeping the nasty little things at bay, but I must admit that I was a little startled to read that inspectors were so dedicated and so diligent in their work that they could find a 1/8 inch bug in a Fresno duffle-bag. Since California is a major citrus grower and a Huanglongbing infestation would spell disaster for that industry, perhaps our good governor could tweak some money out of the Federal government to hire some of the unemployed workers in California as Huanglongbing inspectors. I mean, with all the money going out to the auto industries and banks and so forth, maybe California could use a little of it to protect one of our own industries and put some more people back to work.

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