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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Jay Van Rein & Steve Lyle, Director of Public Affairs, 916/654-0462,, Larry Hawkins, USDA 916/930-5509

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #07-050
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Organic compound Bt to be utilized

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are announcing that the initial treatment has been scheduled for a light brown apple moth eradication project in Oakley, Contra Costa County.

Details about the treatment will be explained at an informational open house, scheduled for June 11, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Laurel Elementary School, 1141 Laurel Rd., Oakley. The first treatment is scheduled for June 13, with subsequent treatments scheduled to occur at two-week intervals.

Treatments will consist of ground application of the organic substance Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). This is a naturally occurring biological insecticide that is registered in California and commonly used on organically grown fruits and vegetables.  A fact sheet about Bt is available on the CDFA Web site at

A 114-acre area straddling O’Hara Ave. between Freedom High School and Laurel Park will be treated. However, the school and park will not be treated. 

The light brown apple moth has infested a nine-county region in the Bay Area. Although other areas are more densely infested than Oakley, the eradication program is focusing there in the early going in order to eliminate lightly infested areas on the perimeter of the region first - to reduce the risk of spread outward. This is consistent with recommendations from the federally-sponsored technical working group that visited the Bay Area last month to evaluate the infestation.   

CDFA and the USDA continue work on plans for other communities in the nine-county region and the agencies have established state and federal quarantines to regulate plant movement, which are also intended to reduce the risk of spread.  

The light brown apple moth, which has never before been detected in North America, is of particular concern because it can damage a wide range of plants - including many commonly found in our urban and suburban landscaping, public parks, and natural environment.  The list of agricultural crops that could be damaged by this pest includes Napa County’s famed grapes as well as citrus, stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots) and others.  The complete “host list” contains over 250 plant species.  The pest damages plants and crops by feeding on leaves, new shoots and fruit.

For more information on the light brown apple moth, please visit

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814