SACRAMENTO – The light brown apple moth, an invasive species native to Australia, has recently been detected in San Francisco and Marin County – an expansion of the infested area that began with detections in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
This also represents an expansion of the interim regulatory action established last week by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to try to halt the spread of the apple moth. The interim action will be enforced in all known infested communities and will remain in place until CDFA, the USDA, and agricultural commissioners in affected counties establish a quarantine for the pest.
The interim regulatory action is directed at wholesale nurseries, retail nurseries, and community and school gardens. The details are as follows:
Wholesale Nurseries – Wholesale nurseries in the infestation area will be asked to sign compliance agreements stating that they will inspect host plants before shipment and certify that they are free-from light brown apple moth. If the nurseries are infested, plants must be treated and then re-inspected before they are shipped.
Retail Nurseries – Retail nurseries will be inspected and, if infested, will be asked to remove infested plants and plant parts and then sign compliance agreements certifying that host plants to be sold are free-from the pest. Discarded plants and plant parts will be double-bagged and taken to landfills.
Community and School Gardens – Host fruits and vegetables, including citrus, apples, pears, peaches, leafy greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower, may not be removed from school and community gardens.
Establishments that are subject to the interim regulatory action will be contacted by regulatory officials.
CDFA is asking that green waste hauled by landscapers and lawn maintenance services be safeguarded and hauled only to approved locations such as transfer stations, landfills, compost facilities and biomass facilities.
In addition, CDFA, the USDA and agricultural commissioners are requesting that residents of the infestation zone please not remove any plants or plant parts from their property, including fruit and flowers.
The first detection of light brown apple moth in the Bay Area came on February 27. Since then, more than 75 have been detected in the communities of San Rafael, Sausalito, San Francisco, Alameda, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito and Richmond. Trapping and surveying will continue in the area to learn the parameters of the infestation. Once that is established, a quarantine will be proposed.
Light brown apple moth is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Hawaii. The range of host plants is broad with more than 250 plant species known to be susceptible to attack by this pest. Major domestic hosts of concern are stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries and apricots), apples, pears, grapes and citrus.
The pest destroys, stunts or deforms young seedlings; spoils the appearance of ornamental plants; and injures deciduous fruit-tree crops, citrus and grapes.
The USDA and CDFA have assembled a technical working group comprised of international experts on light brown apple moth to discuss survey and mitigation strategies to safeguard against this potentially damaging pest and prevent its further spread. The two agencies will continue to work together to take the appropriate regulatory action to prevent the spread of this pest in association with the movement of host commodities.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814