Apple moth discovery prompts quarantine

February 27, 2009 12:55:26 PM PST
Another quarantine area will be established in Sonoma County after the discovery of a second light brown apple moth Feb. 17 south of Sebastopol.

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The quarantine will be the second in the county. The other quarantine zone includes portions of southern Sonoma County in the Carneros wine grape region, which extends into Napa and Solano counties.

The first quarantine zone was established last fall, according to Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Lisa Correia. She did not know exactly when the second quarantine area would be established.

The first moth was found in the Sebastopol area in November. A quarantine is triggered when a second male moth is found within three miles of another male moth.

Agricultural production in the Sebastopol area includes wine grapes, apples, nursery stock and vegetables.

A quarantine restricts the movement of plants, produce and yard waste from the area and requires inspections of these materials.

The Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner's Office said additional traps for other moths will be set in the Sebastopol area.

The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and has been found in several Bay Area counties north of Monterey.

Agricultural officials said the moth threatens 250 crops, trees and the California's food supply.

The state abandoned plans to fight the moth by aerial spraying of a pheromone to disrupt the moth's mating cycle and intends to release sterile moths this year. Opponents of aerial spraying argued agricultural officials exaggerated the threat from the moth and the chemical that was sprayed caused illnesses.

The state also affixes twist ties containing the pheromone to shrubbery and trees to reduce the moth population.

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