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Ag experts hope to stop moth’s spread in Manteca

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Ag experts hope to stop moth’s spread in Manteca

The light apple brown moth.

Photo contributed/

POSTED November 22, 2009 2:19 a.m.
California is the promised land for the light brown apple moth.

The state has a Mediterranean -style climate, a smorgasbord of fruit and vegetable crops, ornamental and native plants that fit its dietary needs and – perhaps most important – no natural enemies.

The pest is native to Australia and has successfully invaded New Zealand, the British Islands, New Caledonia, and Hawaii. The United States Department of Agriculture considers it highly likely the moth will become permanently established in this country if eradication measures aren’t established.

The light apple brown moth stunts and deforms young seedlings, spoils the appearance of ornamental and native plans, and damages deciduous fruit tree crops, citrus and grapes. The damage can be as high as a 75 percent crop loss during severe outbreaks.

The destructive moth has been confirmed as reproducing in two Manteca neighborhoods.

The conformations were made in the 100 block of Marie Avenue and Wawona Street at Dill Way.

The California Department of Agriculture is establishing quarantine areas in two neighborhoods. They will comb infected areas wearing khaki uniforms to put in place an average of 30 to 40 Isomate-coated twist ties in mid-December in a bid to stop the spread of the devastating pest.

The twist tie – which resemble those used for garbage bags but contain an odorless, synthetic insect sexual attractant that confuses the male light brown apple moth and impairs its ability to find a mate – will be tied to trees and bushes in the front and back yards of homes within about a 250-yard radius of the confirmed find of reproducing light brown apple moths.

The Wawona treatment area is generally bounded on the west by El Portal Avenue, to the north at a point midway between Wawona and El Dorado Street on the east by Locust Avenue, and on the south by Swan Drive.

The Marie Avenue treatment area is generally bounded by Sheridan Avenue on the west, North Street on the north, Mylnar Avenue on the east, and Bristow Street in the Curran Grove neighborhood on the south.

Patrick Weddle, a senior entomologist with the Pacific Biocontrol Corporation, indicated that  Isomate-LBAM Plus is the formulated twist tie product and is actually a registered insecticide even though it is not toxic in any conventional sense nor does it kill anything.  It has been extensively tested and used for many years in Australia.  The Isomate contains within it a specific insect sex pheromone.  It merely disrupts the ability of adult male moths to find a female mate.  The actual pheromone is a liquid contained inside of the plastic tube.

The liquid pheromone slowly migrates from within the twist tie tube to the outer surface where it volatilizes into the air in molecular amounts roughly six months.  

“(The United States Environmental Protection Agency)  defines an ‘insecticide’ as any product that claims to control an insect pest,” Weddle noted in an e-mail. “The ‘cide’ portion of ‘insecticide’ means ‘kill’ or ‘death’ and is pejorative to pheromones as control agents because, as stated, they kill nothing.  This pheromone is truly benign to the environment and to animal and plant health.”

There will be neighborhood information meets before ties are placed the week of Dec. 14.

Residents in the impact area will be asked to put their dogs in a pen or in the house as well as leave gates open the day the ties are placed. They will go in both the back and front yards. They will be put in trees or the interior of small bushes.
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