USDA Warns GA Residents about Crop-Killing Pests

USDA Warns GA Residents about Crop-Killing Pests
Apr 13, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is alerting Georgia residents about a citrus-killing disease caused by an invasive insect.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid is a tiny brown bug which transmits what is known as "citrus greening disease," an incurable condition rendering citrus fruit inedible and misshapen, making it unsellable.

So far, it's contributed to $40 billion in damages to crops, trees and other plants.

Kathryn Bronsky, national plant protection policy manager for the USDA, said there are ways to halt its spread.

"We recommend for the residents in this area to not transport homegrown citrus or citrus plants out of the area," Bronsky emphasized. "That will really help to prevent the movement of this hungry pest."

April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Experts said spring is an ideal time to detect invasive plant pests and diseases. Trees still have less foliage, making it easier to spot and eliminate bugs in the egg stage before they grow and spread. The Asian Citrus Psyllid is currently under federal quarantine.

The state is also keeping an eye on the imported fire ant, an invasive species which can wreak havoc on crops like corn, soybeans and okra, and even pose a threat to humans and farm equipment.

According to Bronsky, while most pests can hitch a ride on luggage, the imported fire ant poses a little less challenge, because it stays in the fields.

"This one is easy to stop the spread by looking for soil and not moving that with you," Bronsky pointed out. "You actually have to have a permit to travel to new areas with soil from Georgia."

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