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Updated Mar 12, 2013 - 9:59 am

Citrus quarantine area expands in western Arizona

YUMA, Ariz. -- A quarantine area in western Arizona is being expanded by state agriculture officials who are trying to prevent the spread of an insect that carries a disease that kills citrus plants.

The insect, which is about the size of a gnat, is known to carry "citrus greening" disease.

"It's one of the world's most devastating citrus diseases," said John Caravetta, Associate Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

The quarantine on moving uncertified citrus plants was imposed in southwestern Yuma County after the Department of Agriculture detected the Asian citrus psyllid in San Luis in October 2009.

Since then, a statewide trapping program has found the insects in only isolated instances.

However, multiple detections in the Lake Havasu City area in January have prompted the state to expand the quarantine to an area around the Mohave County community.

"Lake Havasu City has a very large infestation of these insects," said Caravetta.

The Yuma Sun reported that the department is asking the public to buy citrus only from inspected and certified nursery stock for home planting.

What's concerning for Caravetta is that the insect can move quickly.

"Through commerce, tourism that we can easily move it into Central Arizona where, so far, we have not seen it."

KTAR's Sandra Haros contributed to this report.

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