Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Bill proposes apple moth advisory board

SACRAMENTO – With state officials concerned about the spread of the light brown apple moth, a bill is now in the state legislature that proposes to form an advisory task force to address the pest issue.

North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins on Friday said she introduced urgency legislation, SB 556, to form a light brown apple moth advisory task force.

Appointments to the task force would be made by the California Department of Food & Agriculture secretary – currently A.G. Kawamura – with task force members required to issue a report on the pest to the secretary no later than Sept. 1, Wiggins' office reported.

The Department of Food & Agriculture reported that the light brown apple moth was discovered in the Bay area in February.

Since then, it has reached a total of eight California counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz.

A total of 1,979 moths have been found according to the most recent Food & Agriculture situation report, released May 8. Most of the moths have been found in Santa Cruz County, which officials believe may be the original infestation point.

Trapping is taking place in 40 counties, with more than 17,000 traps put into urban and rural areas, according to the Department of Food & Agriculture.

No traps have been put out in Lake County, according to the Department of Food & Agriculture. Traps have been placed in the neighboring counties of Sonoma, Mendocino and Yolo, but so far those traps have yielded no moth finds.

The presence of the moth has been confirmed in as many as 250 kinds of plants and trees, according to the Department of Food & Agriculture.

In particular, the moth has been known to damage pears and grapes, important North Coast crops.

The moth, originally from Australia, has since become established in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii and the British Isles, the Department of Food & Agriculture reported.

Moth infestations led the state Department of Food & Agriculture to announce April 20 that it was establishing quarantines in the affected counties. On May 2, federal agriculture department officials implemented a federal order restricting the interstate movement of various agricultural products originating from the same counties listed above, as well as Hawaii.

“California stands as the nation’s leader in agricultural exports, shipping more than $7.2 billion in food and agricultural commodities around the world in 2003 alone,” Wiggins said. “The light brown apple moth has the potential to cause significant economic damage due to increased production costs and the possible loss of international and domestic markets.”

SB 556 has been scheduled for its first legislative hearing on May 15 before the Senate Committee on Agriculture at the State Capitol.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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