Invasive Species Expands in State

The light brown apple moth is an invasive species from Australia.

Published on: Apr 26, 2007

The light brown apple moth, an invasive species native to Australia, has recently been detected in Santa Clara County – an expansion of the infested area that also incorporates Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Marin counties.

This also represents an expansion of the interim regulatory action established 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.

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, which include the items listed above and leafy greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower, may not be removed from school and community gardens.

CDFA is asking that green waste hauled by landscapers and lawn maintenance services be hauled only to approved locations, such as 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, nearly 150 have been detected in the communities of Palo Alto, Los Altos, 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.