After seven years, the dangerous grapevine moth was eradicated from California. The local wine industry is relieved to put an end to the pest.
The federal and state agricultural officials lifted the quarantine restrictions and declared the moth was completely eliminated from California grapevines.
During the spring, the grapevine moth larva feeds on flowers and bud clusters. Later on, the plants are prone to fungal infections such as Botrytis cinerea. The experts agree that if no one intervened, the infestation would have continued to grow.
The Grapevine Moth Intervention
The federal government invested $65 million in the eradication programs that went on for years. The local wine industry also reports spending millions of dollars to keep the crops healthy and protected against the insect.
In Sonoma County, no more than 8,200 traps had been set to monitor the moth. The most affected area was on the North Coast, and the quarantine extended from Nevada to Fresno.
The grapevine moth was first detected in 2009 when it devastated a Chardonnay crop in Oakville. In 2010, Sonoma and Napa had to set quarantine on 446 square miles, and more than 100,000 moths had been detected in the state.
Under the quarantine, the growers had to take additional measures of precaution. They had to wash all equipment and to place tarps over the bins containing picked fruits.
The practices used were trapping, applying insecticides, and taking care of abandoned vineyards. A newer technique was the use of an artificial pheromone that confused the male moths and prevented them from finding mating partners.
In 2011, the number of detected insects dropped to 144. The last grapevine moth officially reported was in 2014 in Cazadero.
Many local people were skeptic about the success of the pursuit. Still, the joint efforts managed to bring the eradication of the moth, relieving the local industry from an incredible burden.
The officials never did manage to find out how the insect arrived in the state.
The wine industry in California faces other challenges as well. One of them is an outbreak of Pierce’s disease, which made the growers replant thousands of plants. The disease is transmitted by blue-green and glassy-winged sharpshooters, and it blocks the water flow in the vines.
In the meantime, the scientists from the University of California, Davis, are trying to create a grapevine that is resistant to Pierce’s disease.
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