Agriculture

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 top and a male below.
Adult light brown apple moths are light brown with dark brown markings. A female is shown on 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 Johnson Avenue, said Karen Lowerison, deputy county agricultural commissioner.

The pest already has 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 placed 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.

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.

Fresno County has avoided an infestation of the dangerous pest. The last known discovery of the pest was in September 2013, when a single moth was caught in an insect trap in northwest Fresno.

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