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Bug hunters fan across LA to stop citrus disease

FRESNO, Calif. — California bug detectives are fanning across a Los Angeles suburb, setting traps and taking tissue samples from backyard citrus trees in a frantic effort to stop the spread of a tree-killing disease detected there last week.

Agriculture officials are hanging traps and scouting for potentially diseased trees in a half-mile radius.

By the weekend, they surveyed 435 properties, found 178 host plants and took samples from 57 trees that exhibited symptoms: yellowing of new shoots, misshapen fruit and leaf blotching.

Only one case of huanglongbing, or citrus greening, has been detected. The disease has caused billions of dollars in damage across Florida since 2005.

In California, 80 percent of the nation's fresh orange supply is at risk. The state is seeking emergency authority to spray trees in the area.