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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Steve Lyle, CDFA Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462, Larry Hawkins, USDA, (916) 930-5509

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #08-017


Detection triggers placement of additional traps in the area

SACRAMENTO – A single light brown apple moth (LBAM), an invasive pest native to Australia, has been detected in Sonoma County.

The trap that caught the male moth was part of a statewide trapping array deployed to detect any new infested sites as early as possible. The detection triggered increased trapping in the immediate area to determine if additional moths are present. If additional moths are found in the vicinity, eradication efforts would be planned, the area would be quarantined to limit the movement of plants, produce, yard waste and related articles from the area, and additional trapping would be performed to monitor the moth population.

A cooperative eradication program run jointly by CDFA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is already underway to suppress and eradicate infestations in nine counties along California’s Central Coast and Bay Area.  Since its detection in February 2007, the Light Brown Apple Moth has been found and quarantines have been enacted in the counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda and Solano.

Small, isolated infestations detected last year in Los Angeles and Napa counties have already been eradicated. Twist ties that emit moth pheromone were utilized in both counties.  In Santa Barbara County, where a single moth was found in early February, intensive trapping has detected no additional moths to date.
The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hawaii.  The range of host plants is broad with more than two-thousand plant species known to be susceptible to attack by this pest, and more than 250 crops. It threatens California’s environment—including cypress, redwood and oak trees—by destroying, stunting or deforming young seedlings and damaging new growth in the forest canopy. The moth also feeds on host plants favored by a number of endangered species; spoils the appearance of ornamental plants; and injures citrus, grapes, and deciduous fruit tree crops.

A USDA study indicates that, if California becomes generally infested, the moth could cause between $160 million and $640 million in crop damage annually. Additionally, it would hinder export opportunities and interstate commerce due to quarantine restrictions. Already, Mexico and Canada have imposed export regulations on California because of the LBAM infestation.      

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


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1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814