USDA Preparing To Eradicate Apple Moth

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is preparing to breed millions of sterile male light brown apple moths in Moss Landing, Calif., in hopes of disrupting reproduction of the Australian pest.

According to the Mercury News, USDA is preparing to breed enough sterile moths to release over a 500-square-mile radius. The technique has never been used to eradicate a pest with as many hosts as the light brown apple moth, says James Carey, a UC Davis entomology professor. He argues the spray should be stopped.

“They can’t eradicate these things,” Carey says, “but it lets (the state agriculture department) throw public money down a rat hole.”

The idea behind the USDA effort comes after yet another quarantine expansion. More than 2,400 square miles, including Santa Cruz County, now fall under quarantine, which prohibits the movement of nursery stock and cut flowers unless they are certified pest-free by an agricultural official.

“It’s a nightmare,” says Dave Cavanaugh, a nursery owner the quarantine affects. “You can imagine someone walking through your place of business or your home and hoping and praying they don’t find anything.”

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