A citrus quarantine has been expanded to parts of Maricopa County around Gila Bend following detection of a tiny insect that can carry a disease fatal to plants. The pest has spread slowly in Arizona.
A small portion of western Maricopa County has been added to the quarantine area for a pest threatening a larger segment of Arizona's $37-million commercial citrus industry and trees growing in backyards around the state.
The area around Gila Bend marks the first part of Maricopa County to be under quarantine for Asian citrus psyllid, according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The tiny insect was discovered in Arizona in late 2009 and has slowly been spreading with 22,677 square miles of the state now affected by the quarantine, primarily in southern and western counties.
The public isn't restricted from buying citrus fruit or trees, but state officials are asking people to purchase from local sources and to be careful if transporting plant material from quarantine areas.
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