Moth Spraying Halted

Governor Schwarzenegger this afternoon announced that spraying to control the invasive Light Brown Apple Moth would be halted until further testing could be done on the product’s safety. Earlier in the day, a Santa Cruz county judge ruled that the threat posed by the moth to California agriculture did not outweigh the need for assessing the environmental impact of spraying in advance.

State ag officials consider that the moth, which is native to Australia, is a threat to a wide range of plants including native trees such as redwoods and oaks, and crops such as peaches, cherries and grapes. (More information about the moth from the U.S. Department of Agriculture here).

UC Davis entomology professor Jim Carey, however, has argued that the moth is not a significant threat that justifies general spraying, and that it may have been in California for some time — possibly decades. The eradication program won’t work, he told CBS-5 last week.

Why? Because he said it is a huge infestation.

“No matter how much they spray this pheromone, it’s simply not going to eradicate this population, it’s simply too widespread.” Carey said.

Bay Area residents have raised concerns about the health impacts of the spray, which is based on an insect pheromone intended to disrupt moth reproduction. Residents have complained of headaches, asthma attacks and shortness of breath. UC Davis toxicologist Ron Tjeerdema, however, reviewed the label information for the spray and told the San Francisco Chronicle he found nothing of particular concern.

More about the moth from the UC Davis Department of Entomology here.

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