Environment

Light brown apple moths found in San Luis Obispo

Adult light brown apple moths are light brown with dark brown markings. A female is shown on the top and a male below.
Adult light brown apple moths are light brown with dark brown markings. A female is shown on the top and a male below. UC Master Gardeners

Light brown apple moths, a damaging invasive insect from Australia, have been found in San Luis Obispo for the first time.

Insect trappers with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture detected the moth at three locations in San Luis Obispo — two in the Laguna Lake area and one off of Johnson Avenue, said Karen Lowerison, deputy county agricultural commissioner.

The pest has already been detected in multiple other locations in the county including Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, Los Osos, Shell Beach and most of Arroyo Grande.

Additional insect traps will be place throughout the city to delineate the extent of the infestation. A quarantine restricting the movement of certain plants, fruits, vegetables and green waste will be established to prevent the spread of the plant in conjunction with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“We urge the public countywide to purchase plants from local nurseries to help prevent the spread of this pest and allow my staff to place insect traps in landscapes when requested,” said Martin Settevendemie, county agricultural commissioner.

The moth is a concern because in its caterpillar stage the pest can destroy, stunt or deform young seedlings, spoil the appearance of ornamental plants and damage citrus, grapes, and many other fruit crops.

Multiple other counties in the state also have light brown apple moth infestations. However, California is the only state experiencing the infestation.

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