A new iPhone application is available from USDA to help homeowners identify and report possible citrus pests and diseases.

The free app called “Save our Citrus” is available at the iTunes application store.

USDA is currently in the process of building an application platform compatible with Android smart phones which should be released soon.

This application is part of an ongoing effort by USDA and the citrus industry to partner with residential citrus tree owners to combat the spread of the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), and the deadly citrus disease it carries, huanglongbing (HLB).

Populations of ACP are prevalent in Southern California. The first case of HLB was detected in Hacienda Heights, Calif. last month.

Once the application is downloaded, the homeowner can set up a profile complete with GPS coordinates (if permitted) and upload pictures of their own citrus trees and compare it to pictures of infected trees.

The application also allows the homeowner to report suspicious insects and tree symptoms directly to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

There is also a link to the Save Our Citrus website, www.saveourcitrus.org, and the YouTube channel where the homeowner can find out more about invasive pests and diseases.

“A significant portion of Southern California homeowners have back yard citrus trees and their support and cooperation is critical to successfully controlling and preventing the spread of ACP and HLB into commercial citrus groves,” said Joel Nelsen, President of California Citrus Mutual in Exeter, Calif.

“Citrus growers alone invest $1 million a year in public outreach efforts to educate homeowners about the severity of HLB. Communication with homeowners has been a top priority of CDFA, USDA, and industry stakeholders and this application is an excellent tool to help homeowners stay informed and report potential damage,” Nelsen said.

“We are very excited about the outreach potential this application has. Every informed citrus tree owner is a huge step toward preventing HLB from devastating the California citrus industry as it has in Brazil, Mexico, and Florida. Homeowners have really demonstrated an interest in protecting their citrus trees from this disease.”

“Over 100 homeowners attended CDFA’s information session in the San Gabriel Valley last week following the discovery of HLB in Hacienda Heights. This is a clear indicator that homeowners are truly a vested partner in this effort. We are confident that homeowners will be very responsive to this new application and will find it very helpful in identifying and reporting HLB symptoms in their trees.”