Sunday, 19 May 2024

Governor signs light brown apple moth bill

A male light brown apple moth (left) and a female (right). Photo from a New South Wales Department of Primary Industries report.


On Friday afternoon, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill to help the state battle the light brown apple moth.

The bill, SB 556, the Light Brown Apple Moth Act of 2007, was authored by Sen. Patricia Wiggins.

When the light brown apple moth was discovered in the Bay area in late February 2007, it became the newest pest to make its way into the state.

Wiggins represents two counties – Napa and Solano – where the presence of the light brown apple moth has been confirmed, according to a statement from her office.

The light brown apple moth has not been found in Lake County, state and local officials report.

A second light brown apple moth discovery was made in Napa late in August, according to California Department of Food and Agriculture officials. The first moth was found in May in a residential area; Napa County agriculture officials said this second moth was found in a winegrape producing area.

In recent months agriculture officials have been working on eradicating the moth in Napa and Contra Costa counties by using pheromone treatments.

The US Department of Agriculture in August dedicated $15 million to aid California's eradication effort.

Originally from Australia, the moth has spread quickly across California, resulting in a multi-county quarantine by Food and Agriculture. The moth is considered a threat to 250 host species of native and ornamental plants, fruits, and vegetables.

Wiggins' bill would create the Light Brown Apple Moth Program in the CDFA, along with an LBAM account, from which the department may allocate funds to local agencies for activities to eradicate the moth, her office reported.

“LBAM destroys, stunts or deforms young seedlings, spoils the appearance of ornamental plants, and injures deciduous fruit tree crops, citrus, and grapes,” Wiggins said in a statement. “This pest poses a very serious threat to California agriculture, nurseries and related industries, and my bill will help ensure that our state and local agencies have he tools and resources they need to eradicate the LBAM before it can do any more damage.”

SBl 556, according to Wiggins' office, is patterned after the state’s Pierce's Disease/Glassy Winged Sharpshooter program, which was enacted several years ago in response to the pest's introduction and threat to the state's wine grape and table grape industry.

Exotic pests and diseases create environmental and financial havoc, not only to California's agricultural industry, but to the environment, as well. Due to increased global travel, relaxed federal inspections at ports of entry, and lack of funding for agricultural inspection stations, California has battled exotic pests and diseases with an increasing frequency, Wiggins' office reported.

The CDFA, in collaboration with county agricultural commissioners, inspects products and shipments entering the state, but due to the increasing volume and limited financial resources, not all products and shipments can be inspected, Wiggins reported.

State quarantine programs are coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which Wiggins' office said recently acted to restrict the interstate movement of nursery stock, cut flowers and greenery from affected California counties and the State of Hawaii.

Due to this discovery and quarantine, both Canada and Mexico have prohibited certain shipments of flowers, fruits and other products within the quarantine zones and require inspections and phytosanitary certifications to accompany a variety of products from non-quarantine areas within California, according to Food and Agriculture.

The light brown apple moth already has caused significant economic harm to agricultural producers within the quarantine areas, as well as added costs and new regulatory pressures to all California producers who grow potential the moth's host commodities, Wiggins' office reported.

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


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