There’s a new bad guy in town threatening to create yet another headache for vineyards located in and around Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties. Other counties could also be at risk. The light brown apple moth (LBAM) is an invasive leaf roller indigenous to Australia. Epiphyas postvittana has become established in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii and the British Isles, according to Kevin Hoffman, CDFA Primary State Entomologist. Currently, it has been found in California in an approximate 30 square mile area from Richmond to Alameda. The latest find was in Santa Clara County.

The pest destroys, stunts or deforms young seedlings; spoils the appearance of ornamental plants; and injures deciduous fruit-tree crops, citrus and grapes.

Since the first moth was discovered Feb. 27 in a residential backyard near the Contra Costa/Alameda county border, CDFA in conjunction with APHIS, has begun trappings in five-mile concentric rings around the epicenter of the original find for up to 50 miles. CDFA is also working with county agricultural commissioners throughout Northern and Central California to begin additional trapping measures.

CDFA reports 3,933 traps are out with more being placed daily. So far almost 150 moths have been trapped in the communities of Palo Alto, Los Altos, San Rafael, Sausalito, San Francisco, Alameda, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito and Richmond.

With potential damage estimates topping the $100 million dollar mark, regulators have started placing a hold on the shipments of nursery stock, green waste and fruits and vegetables from school gardens out of the infested area. CDFA and USDA have also begun visual inspections of all agricultural shipments out of the infested area.