The discovery of two pests in San Luis Obispo County has put agricultural officials on alert and will expand ongoing quarantine efforts.
On Aug. 4, the SLO County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures announced that three light brown apple moths were discovered in Arroyo Grande. The moths, often referred to as LBAM, have been found across California, spurring eradication and management efforts throughout the state. Locally, the LBAM was first discovered in Arroyo Grande in 2009 and was believed to have been eradicated, according to county Agricultural Commissioner Martin Settevendemie. The moth was later found in Los Osos, Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Cambria, where quarantines and management operations remain in effect. Settevendemie said that the California Department of Food and Agriculture oversees management aimed at limiting populations. According a department press release, when high populations are reached, “the caterpillar stage of this insect can destroy, stunt, or deform young seedlings, spoil the appearance of ornamental plants and can injure citrus, grapes and deciduous fruit crops.”
A 9-square-mile quarantine has been placed around the area where the moth was discovered.
On Aug. 5, the SLO agricultural department also announced the discovery of an Asian citrus psyllid in an insect trap in northeastern San Luis Obispo. The psyllid, which was also detected in Arroyo Grande in March, transmits the disease Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease. While the disease hasn’t achieved a foothold in California, it has officials on high alert because of the devastating impacts it can potentially bring to citrus trees. In the last 10 years, the disease has spread in Florida, killing nearly 50 percent of the commercial citrus trees there.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay