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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wee little insect threatening Florida's citrus bounty

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM

click to enlarge Typical Asian citrus psyllid. Photo by Michael Rogers.
  • Typical Asian citrus psyllid. Photo by Michael Rogers.

Typical Asian citrus psyllid. Photo by Michael Rogers.

Well, now we understand why the Florida Citrus Commission is trying to reboot Captain Citrus - our citrus industry is teetering on the brink thanks to a weensy insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid. Experts say the little bugger feeds on citrus leaves, depositing a powerful nutrient-destroying bacteria as they munch that has no known cure. Agriculture heads are seeking aid from the federal government in eliminating this psyllid and fear if help doesn't arrive soon enough, oranges might be a thing of the past.

That sounds a little panicky, but no citrus experts are we. However, there is no reason not to be optimistic. If William C. Gorgas could manage to wipe out yellow fever-transmitting mosquitos during construction of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s, then America can surely crush the Asian citrus psyllid in present day.

And if we can't, just think of how cool we'll sound when we're describing orange juice to our great grandkids. "You could mix it with vodka and make something called a Screwdriver!"

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