The movement of citrus plants and plant material from Charleston, Beaufort and Colleton counties in South Carolina is prohibited under state and federal quarantine due to the recent detection of Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama.

The insect is a reportable pest, and the Aug. 8 identification in Charleston was the first detection in South Carolina.

These actions are necessary to prevent the spread of citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing, which was first identified in the United States in Florida in 2005 and has spread to Louisiana. Citrus greening does not pose a risk to people, but the bacterial disease causes fruit from infected trees to become unmarketable and also can cause tree death. Once infected, there is no cure for a tree with citrus greening.

The Asian pysllid is the primary way for spreading citrus greening disease. No psyllids or citrus plants from South Carolina have tested positive for citrus greening. A U.S. Department of Agriculture surveyor found the insect on backyard citrus trees during August and September. No psyllids have been found in South Carolina nurseries.

The Clemson University Department of Plant Industry and USDA officials will work with affected nurseries and dealers in the quarantined counties to explain new requirements for selling citrus plants, including orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime varieties. Stop-sale orders and emergency-action notifications will be issued to any nurseries where the Asian citrus psyllid is found.

Subsequently psyllids and plants will be tested for citrus greening. A compliance agreement and a special permit will be required in order to ship host material out of the quarantined counties.