RIVERSIDE (CBS) — The discovery of a long-feared insect pest in a citrus tree near Redlands has prompted a quarantine order that prevents people from taking homegrown fruit out of neighborhoods in western Riverside County, according to reports on Saturday.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise said 1,780 square miles of Riverside County, lying west of the Coachella Valley, have been quarantined.
The move is a hoped-for check to the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, a moth-sized parasite that does not by itself harm citrus trees. The bug, however, spreads a disease called huanglingbing, which causes a tree to put out bitter, shriveled fruit, and then die.
KNX 1070’s Pat Haslam reports psyllids have already been found in most of Southern California.
Huanglingbing has devastated citrus crops in Florida.
Under terms of the quarantine, no home-picked fruit can be taken out of the area.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)