Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Carpinteria quarantined after moths found


Following the discovery of two invasive moths, state officials placed a 10 square-mile quarantine on Carpinteria and its surrounding agricultural lands in recent days, subjecting nurseries and farms to extensive inspections.
Quarantine regulations prohibit the movement of any fruits, vegetables or plant parts unless an agricultural official certifies them, according to a statement from the state Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Officials are attempting to prevent an infestation of the light brown apple moth, a native pest of Australia that can damage a wide range of agricultural crops.

“We know we have a lot of agriculture in Carpinteria,” said Matt Roberts, Carpinteria’s director of parks and recreation. “The city will be trying our best to cooperate fully with whatever experts say should be done in order to not only eradicate the infestation, but also to prevent its spread.”
If California does become infested, studies indicate the moth could cause billions of dollars in crop damage annually and harm agricultural exports to states and other countries, according to the CDFA.
“California’s nurseries rank third in agricultural production value, behind only dairy and grapes,” CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura said in a prepared statement. “They are a key segment of the state’s economy, they are in the midst of their busiest season, and I fully understand that the additional inspections and expense are onerous.
“But these steps are mandatory and necessary to eradicate this pest from California and to protect the rest of the state from added quarantines and increased pesticide use over the long term.”
The quarantine applies to private residences, nurseries, farms and public land. CDFA officials are asking residents to eat fruits and vegetables they grow, rather than taking them off their property.
“We’re asking all residents not to move live plant material, especially leafy things, around in town,” Roberts said.
Officials have also set moth traps throughout the quarantined zone. If no moths are captured in the next few weeks, pheromone-treated twist ties will be applied to plants and fences near the area where the moths where discovered.
The light brown apple moth has been discovered in 11 other counties in the state, sparking quarantines in those locations as well. An eradication program using pheromone-treated ties has been successful in Los Angeles and Napa counties, according to the CDFA. More information is available at www.cdfa.ca.gov.

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