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A notorious vineyard pest was found in SLO — but grape growers shouldn’t worry yet

A glassy-winged sharpshooter on a grape leaf.
A glassy-winged sharpshooter on a grape leaf.

County agricultural officials recently trapped a notorious vineyard pest in San Luis Obispo, but they say grape growers shouldn’t be too concerned.

A pest detection trapper found a glassy-winged sharpshooter July 13 on a lemon tree trap in a residential neighborhood near the intersection of Highways 1 and 101, said Karen Lowerison, deputy county agricultural commissioner.

In response, staff added additional traps to the area and inspected them during the next five weeks, she said. No adult insects were found, and neither were eggs or larvae, which would’ve indicated the insects were breeding.

“If there’s a breeding population, they’re going to show up,” Lowerison said. “We’re going to find them.”

Sharpshooters — brown insects that feed on plants — strike fear into the hearts of vineyard owners because they transmit plant diseases that can be fatal to grapevines. San Luis Obispo County last experienced an infestation in 2010, when trappers found sharpshooters in The Arbors neighborhood near Islay Hill.

The county regularly places sticky yellow sharpshooter traps on five plants per square mile in urban areas as part of its prevention effort, Lowerison said. She said trappers find a sharpshooter in the county every couple of years.

“It’s pretty important, considering what grapes do for our county,” she said.

Residents should buy their nursery stock locally and avoid bringing in plants from Southern California, as they could be carrying the pest, Lowerison said: “People should always be aware of it.”

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

The first wine grapes of the 2017 vintage are starting to be plucked from the vines in San Luis Obispo County in what growers are describing as a varied vintage.

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