Tiny squirming thing on a backyard tree? There’s an app to ID that

May 01, 2013
Santa Paula News

Hey, see some tiny squirming thing on a backyard tree and you don’t know what it is? Well, now thanks to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, there’s an app to ID that!

You can take a picture with your mobile device and send it directly to the state for evaluation; and there’s even an option for GPS coordinates of the find, just in case a rapid response is necessary. The CDFA has gone high tech and tech smart in introducing the “Report a Pest” mobile app, according to the agency’s Office of Public Affairs.

In connection with national Invasive Plant Pest and April’s Disease Species Awareness Month, CDFA is making the new mobile app available for Californians interested in helping to keep an eye out for invasive species. The app is called “Report a Pest,” and it enables people to take photos of a suspected invasive insect or plant and send them to CDFA for evaluation. 

The app includes an option for GPS coordinates of the find, just in case a rapid response is necessary. And in the case of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), a rapid response might just save the state’s citrus industry. 

The pest - the size of a grain of rice - could carry a citrus greening disease, Huanglongbing. Known as HLB, the disease can kill infected trees within a few years and has already destroyed much of the Florida citrus industry. There is no cure for HLB.

Although citrus is a $1.8 billion industry, about 70 percent of California’s citrus trees are grown in residential backyards. The statistics make detecting the pest and treatment more difficult, but the new app can go a long way in making easy to report suspicious pests lurking in backyard trees.

For now, the app is available for Apple iPhones and iPads and may be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store. An Android version is under development. The mobile app is an extension of the “Report a Pest” link on CDFA’s web site, which features more information on submitting photographs or even live samples of invasive species.

CDFA’s Divisions of Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services and Information Technology Services worked together to develop the app. The Division of Plant Health works to protect California’s food supply and environment from invasive species.

For more information visit http://cdfa.ca.gov

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