BELLE CHASSE, La. -- Ben Becnel's family has been growing citrus fruit in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans for six generations.
Tuesday, he inspected his satsuma trees near the community of Jesuit Bend for an insect called the Asian Citrus Psyllid.
The bug, about the size of a grain of rice, can carry a disease capable of killing his crop.
"The bug has been found in Plaquemines Parish," said Becnel. "I have not see any in my groves. I know it's primarily being found in homeowners yards, right now I guess because they don't do the spraying like we do."
Plaquemines Parish just completed two days of aerial spraying for the bugs in citrus groves from Belle Chasse to Venice.
"It was introduced into Florida," said Becnel. "They started seeing it maybe 10 or 12 years ago and we were told to be on the look out for it."
Alan Vaughn from the LSU AgCenter says killing the psyllid before they cause major damage is key.
"We're trying to keep the population of the bug down low so the disease won't come," said Vaughn. "We won't know that the disease is here until it's too late."
The citrus psyllid has the potential to wipe out Plaquemines' $5 million citrus industry.
It can cause citrus greening that can kill entire trees.
"It causes half the fruit to be yellow and half the fruit to be green and the fruit gets small and sour, so you can't eat it," said Vaughn.
It is prime harvesting season for Plaquemines Parish citrus crops. Farmers say the crop could be the best in years.
"We have plenty and they look good and it should be good quality because we didn't have any storms this year to scratch or damage the fruit or bruise it or cause internal damage," said Becnel. "Everything is looking really good right now."
Fruit from local growers are now on sale at roadside stands along La. 23.
The LSU AgCenter encourages people with citrus trees in their backyards to check their trees for the citrus psyllid.
For more information call the AgCenter at 504-433-3664.