The Maintenance Services Department is warning residents to watch for lerps, insects invading eucalyptus trees in the city. The department has received several calls from residents concerned about the infestations. The tiny, almost microscopic bugs--known commonly in the United States as psyllids--were first detected in California in the El Monte area in 1998 and have spread rapidly throughout the state. The red river gum variety of eucalyptus is a favorite target. Telltale signs that a tree is infested include an accumulation of leaves on the ground, sticky residue exuded by the insects onto the leaves and a sooty mold forming on the leaves as a result of the residue.

Studies are being conducted to determine whether the city should use pesticides or import natural predators to battle the bugs, but in the meantime, residents should reduce watering and avoid fertilizing their eucalyptus trees, said Dan Sereno, the city's landscape maintenance superintendent. Information: (714) 738-6897.

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