“All Mexican fruit imports are screened in a cooperative effort between USDA and Mexico’s agriculture counterpart before they reach the border and are subject to further inspection on this side of the border. The real danger in the spread of Citrus greening comes from infected plant parts like leaves and twigs attached to non-commercial imports of fruit, like those brought in by visiting Mexican residents,” Hawkins says. “The holiday season sees a spike in visitors from Mexico crossing at land ports of entry and this is the time of year that U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors step up their efforts to monitor potential spread of infected plants, including ornamental plants like orange jasmine.” 

Citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), is considered the most destructive disease of citrus worldwide. It is endemic in large parts of Asia and Africa, and has recently invaded the Americas. The disease is caused by a bacterium which is transmitted by insects called psyllids. There is no cure for greening, and the lengthy latent period after infection makes eradication almost impossible. The disease reduces fruit production, destroys the appearance, taste and economic value of fruit and eventually kills citrus trees.