Devastating citrus pest detected in Desert Hot Springs

POSTED: 05:43 PM PDT Sep 14, 2012    UPDATED: 07:03 PM PDT Sep 14, 2012 
Citrus pest
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -

A tiny bug is causing big problems for citrus growers all over the Southland.

The Asian citrus psyllid is a huge threat to California's $1.8 billion citrus industry because there's no cure for the disease it spreads.

Now, the California Department of Food and Agriculture says there's an infestation in Desert Hot Springs.

Anita Butcher says she gave her orange and grapefruit trees a closer look when she found out about the warning.

"I mean, everybody's yard. There's citrus all over here in Mission Lakes," said Butcher.

The state sent out flyers to homeowners showing pictures of the psyllid. Also, examples of what to look out for if their plants are actually infected.

"It talked about the fruit growing -- not round and tasting bitter. Ours have always tasted good so I didn't think much of it, you know?" asked resident Gabe Ladanne.

The psyllid transmits a disease that is deadly to citrus trees and can easily wipe out entire crops.

There's no way to kill the bacteria -- only to spray and kill the pest.

An open house meeting about those treatment plans will be held September 17 at 5:30pm at the Desert Hot Springs High School theatre.

"Hopefully, we'll all learn a lot more. I'm sure the Department of Agriculture has a strategy to eradicate this pest," said City Manager Rick Daniels.