County wants glassy-winged sharpshooter out of SLO neighborhood

Technicians with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture will begin efforts in February to eradicate the glassy-winged sharpshooter — a vineyard pest — from The Arbors neighborhood in San Luis Obispo.

The insect was first discovered in the residential community near Islay Hill in September. Since then, six live adult sharpshooters and three live nymphs have been trapped and evidence of old egg masses observed.

State and county agriculture officials will hold a public meeting Feb. 1 to explain the treatment process, which consists of applying a pesticide to the soil beneath host plants that will kill the insect when it feeds on the plant. Citrus trees are the most common host plants.

The application is scheduled to take place in February when the insect is most active in its feeding.

The Feb. 1 meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the UC Cooperative Extension auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Details about when and where the applications will take place will be provided at the meeting.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter is considered a serious threat to the county’s multimillion-dollar wine industry because it spreads bacteria that cause a lethal disease to grape plants. It is also a nuisance to homeowners because it deposits a sticky residue on plants.

The active ingredient in the pesticide is imidacloprid, which is commonly used in flea-control products for pets. Occupants at sites where the pesticide will be used will be asked for consent prior to application, farm officials say.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter was first detected in California in 1994 and is native to the southeastern United States, said Neil Havlik, city natural resources manager.

The first major infestation in California occurred in 1999 in Temecula, where more than 300 acres of vineyards were destroyed.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.