SALTON SEA BEACH — Agriculture officials are keeping a close eye on the northern part of Imperial County after a disease-carrying insect potentially fatal to grapevines was discovered on four residential properties in this area.
Though the half-inch long glassy-winged sharpshooter can carry Pierce's disease, a fatal grapevine affliction, Pierce's has not been found in Imperial County, said Steve Birdsall, county agricultural commissioner.
"We're concerned about this, obviously," Birdsall said. "We're taking it very seriously."
However, Birdsall cautioned there's no reason to panic.
"By itself, (the sharpshooter) is not a real significant pest," Birdsall said.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported on its Web site (www.cdfa.ca.gov) that 10 early-stage glassy-winged sharpshooter nymphs were found on a lemon tree in Salton Sea Beach.
Confirmed findings of the sharpshooter were made at four properties in the area, according to the site.
As Birdsall explained, Pierce's disease is often found in citrus trees, where it does no harm. Citrus is the preferred host of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, although the insect sometimes moves to grape vines and carries the Pierce's disease-causing bacterium with it.