As the Moth Turns

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The State of California recently announced that it would spray a mix of pheromone and other undisclosed compounds in Northern California starting in August in an attempt to try and control the spread of the Light Brown Apple Moth. We have concerns and questions about it. FruitGuys Bridget Meigs has a first installment on the background of the Apple Moth. Regardless of where you live, I think this debate is a harbinger of community health issues to come as populations grow and urban areas encroach on agricultural land.
For explanations and photos of our fruit mix, please check out this week's mix.
A Small Moth Causes a Big Stir
By Bridget Meigs
News about planned aerial spraying to control the spread of the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) (Epiphyas postvittana) in California has been in the headlines lately. These small moths measure only one-quarter inch from their mandibles to the tips of their wings, and are tan in color with some darker markings. In its larval stage it is reputed to feed on and damage new growth in 250 to 2,000 different plant species, including important crops like grapes, apples, citrus, avocados, and trees like the Monterey pine, cypress, and oak. Originally found in Australia, LBAMs now have established populations in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, and the British Isles. This moth only travels about 100 yards in its entire lifetime, so how did it develop such a broad geographical range? Humans! When we travel and bring home exotic or ornamental plants, we also often invite stowaways like the LBAM along for the ride. The first confirmed find of an LBAM on the U.S. mainland was made in Berkeley, California on March 12, 2007. On May 2, 2007 the USDA decreed a quarantine restricting exports of a wide range of plant materials from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. It is unknown exactly what kind of damage this exotic moth could do to the U.S. agriculture if its populations continue to grow. California farmers agree that the LBAM needs to be stopped but many disagree as to how it should be done. Check back next week to learn more about this issue, what farmers say, and how it may affect you!

 

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