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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Jay Van Rein, CDFA (916) 654-0462, Larry Hawkins, USDA, (916) 930-5509

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #08-023


Difficult trapping regimen removed from regulations

SACRAMENTO – CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura is applauding progress made by the USDA in ongoing discussions with Mexico about quarantine regulations for the Light Brown Apple Moth. The Mexican government has agreed to amend its regulations to remove a required trapping protocol that the agencies had determined would be impossible to meet.  

“I wish to thank our partners at USDA and our friends in Mexico for taking this step,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “California agricultural producers were genuinely worried that the net effect of the trapping requirement would be a shutdown in Mexico for their crops. Although there are still regulations in place that require compliance, these regulations are viable and will enable our producers to continue to provide high-quality California products to Mexican consumers.”

Additionally, Mexico agreed to remove the counties of Napa and Los Angeles from its list of regulated counties. Light Brown Apple Moth infestations there have been eradicated.

In the summer of 2007, Mexico announced regulations for the Light Brown Apple Moth that included a host list of 25 plants and crops. Last week, along with the trapping requirements and other measures, Mexico updated the list to include at least 93 items, including broad plant families that could result in a significant increase to that number as more information is obtained from Mexico. The newly regulated crops include berries, corn, squash, carrots and broccoli.

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 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 billions of dollars in crop damage annually. Additionally, it would hinder export opportunities and interstate commerce due to quarantine restrictions, as demonstrated by the actions Mexico and Canada, which also has established quarantine restrictions. California agricultural exports to the two countries totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2006.    

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. A quarantine is pending in Santa Barbara County.

Isolated detections last year in Los Angeles and Napa counties have already been eradicated, and sites in Contra Costa and Marin counties are under eradication as well, all using twist ties that emit moth pheromone.  In Sonoma County, where a single moth has been detected, intensive trapping is underway to learn if there are more.

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


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