Moth is Huge Threat to Napa County Vineyards
The USDA has confirmed that the light brown apple moth is in Napa County after an adult male specimen was found in a trap near Highway 29. This news is alarming because the pest feeds on many crops during its larval stages including grape vines.
The light brown apple moth is native to Australia, and is also found in New Zealand, the British Isles, and Hawaii. It was not discovered in the Continental United States until March 22nd of this year. The moth has been identified in eight counties and quarantine measures have been put in place to slow its spread.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A. G. Kawamura underscored the efforts to stop the moth, saying, “We are moving quickly to detect the extent of any infestation and contain the problem in the smallest possible area.” Several measures are being considered to combat the moth from spreading.
Because males are attracted to pheromones released by females, researchers may release similar compounds to confuse the mating process. In Australia and New Zealand, insecticides and natural predators have also been used to control the population.
The extent of the threat to Napa’s wine industry is still unknown, and more traps are being set to determine how large the population is. “I would not want to characterize it as being any more or less than it is in any other place in the Bay Area (where the moths have been found), but it is not a good thing that we should find it up there,’‘ said Larry Hawkins of the USDA.
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