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A tiny, devastating pest

This is Science Today. There's a new pest that citrus researchers are concerned about. It's a tiny insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. Entomologist Beth Grafton-Cardwell of the University of California, Riverside, says by itself, the insect is not so bad, but the pest is a carrier of a bacterial disease called huanglongbing, which can wreak havoc on the citrus industry.

Grafton-Cardwell:    That disease is absolutely devastating for citrus. It will cause the leaves to turn yellow, it will cause the fruit to be small, misshapen and eventually, turn kind of bitter tasting and eventually it will kill the tree.

Narrator:       The Asian citrus psyllid, which comes from Asia and India, has slowly made its way around the world. Both the pest and the disease are in eastern parts of Mexico, causing great concern that it can gradually make its way to California.

Grafton-Cardwell:    So, one of our plans at the moment is to protect the industry from the disease by reducing the amount of psyllids there are and preventing them from spreading throughout the state of California.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.