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The hunt for the light brown apple moth

Similar to Sean Connery’s character in the Hunt for Red October where he plays a captain on the hunt for a superior Soviet nuclear submarine, I too am on the hunt for dangerous pest; the light brown apple moth (LBAM). For those not familiar with the LBAM it is an exotic pest native to Australia. These moths pose a serious threat to our environments ecology, beauty and agricultural productivity- not just in California but nationwide. What makes protection against these moths so difficult is that they have few natural enemies in the U.S. and re-produce at a rapid pace. LBAMS feed on grapevines at all stages of their life cycle; overwintering larvae may feed on buds causing injured buds to fail in further development. During bloom, larvae may feed on flower clusters and after verasion feeding damage on the berries may allow rot organisms to infect fruit. Pheromone traps are the most efficient and reliable methods for trapping male adults but monitoring agricultural areas on a regular basis can help prevent their spread.

I’ve taken on the task to do LBAM monitoring at our three vineyard locations. Forms can be downloaded from the IPM website which provides you with everything from pest management guidelines to weekly monitoring sheets. Now that the vineyards are into their berry set stage it’s important to examine the leaves and clusters for the webbed nests constructed by the larvae. The website suggests monitoring several blocks in each vineyard on a weekly basis. If you suspect the presence of the LBAM it is important to notify your State department of agriculture or APHIS. You can find a listing of those contacts here. Let’s all do our part to protect our vineyards and our country’s agriculture!

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