South Orange County is infested with the invasive Asian citrus psyllid, a nasty bug that transmits a deadly disease to citrus trees, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
In response, CDFA technicians in San Clemente and inland South OC locations will be spend the next several weeks spraying your orange, lime and lemon trees, as well as certain shrubs and other plants, in an attempt to protect the California citrus crop, both commercial and residential. Some 50 percent to 70 percent of residential properties in Southern California have citrus trees, according to the CDFA.
CDFA spokesman Steve Lyle said scientists first detected the pest in 2008, and technicians have been spraying throughout Southern California since then.
"The treatment is designed to be a onetime treatment," Lyle said. "We'll follow up over time by checking traps, and if they haven't returned, we're done. If they have, we have to come back."
Pest control technicians from the department are systematically spraying two types of pesticides on host plants -- cyflurin on the foliage to kill adult psyllids, and an imidacloprid poison to the soil beneath to kill baby bugs.
Imidacloprid, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, is a common insect-specific neurotoxin also used topically on pets to control fleas.
Cyflurin is also widely used in agriculture and on pets. It's chemically modified to remain effective even in bright sunlight, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The disease, carried by a bacteria, is called huanglongbing, the most deadly in the world to citrus trees. It has been found in Texas, Florida, Mexico and Brazil, according to the CDFA. It has reportedly wiped out half the citrus groves in Florida.
Lyle said only one case has been found so far in California -- a single tree in Hacienda Heights in April. But he expects more pest outbreaks and more disease cases in coming years.
"Eradication is not within reach at this point because of the size and density of the infestation," Lyle said. "But control is."
If a case of the disease is found in a tree, the tree is removed immediately and the surrounding foliage and landscape are treated for the insects.
In May, . Additional surveys found infestations in spots throughout South Orange County.
See the attached map for spray locations near you; technicians will post notices if they plan to spray on your property.
(Article updated with quotes from Steve Lyle at 2:30 p.m. June 27)