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County is trapping destructive insects

Jutta Thoerner places  trap in an Edna Valley vineyard to see if the European vineyard moth is here. photo Jayson Mellom 3-16-10
Jutta Thoerner places trap in an Edna Valley vineyard to see if the European vineyard moth is here. photo Jayson Mellom 3-16-10 The Tribune

County agricultural technicians are in for a busy spring. This week, they started deploying 2,300 insect traps to determine if two destructive crop pests have arrived in the county.

“It’s going to be an intensive next three months,” trapper technician Jutta Thoerner said as she placed a bright red trap on a vine in Paragon Vineyards just south of San Luis Obispo.

Thoerner and her partner, Laura Hebert, are part of a team of 10 technicians who will blanket agricultural and urban areas of the county with one trap per 40 acres, starting first with the South County and then moving on to the North County.

Their work is part of a massive statewide effort by the state Department of Food and Agriculture to determine the spread of the European grapevine moth and the Asian citrus psyllid.

The traps use a pheromone specific to those insects to attract the bugs and sticky surfaces to hold them once they enter the trap.

Of particular concern is the grapevine moth because it threatens the county’s $124 million wine grape industry. The moth eats flowers and grape bunches and has already been discovered in Napa County.

The citrus psyllid is a threat because it can spread citrus greening disease, which is fatal to most citrus trees. The insect, but not the disease, has been found in six Southern California counties.

“No one knows how these pests entered into California,” said Bob Lilley, county agricultural commissioner. “If they are here, the hope is we will have small populations in limited areas so they can be quickly brought under control.”

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

European Grapevine Moth

Lobesia botrana

Actual size: 1/2 inch.

A significant pest in Europe, the Mediterranean, southern Russia, Japan, the Middle East, Near East, and northern and western Africa. The moth’s larvae feed on grapes and other crops, including olives, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, persimmons and pomegranates.

Larvae feed on the flowers of grapes. Adult moths’ forewings have a mosaic-shaped pattern with black, brown, cream, red and blue ornamentation.

Source: University of Minnesota/THE FRESNO BEE

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