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Monterey County to see fresh efforts against apple moth

 

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND DANIEL STRAIN • DSTRAIN@THECALIFORNIAN.COM • FEBRUARY 27, 2010

But no chemical sprays are expected

California has no plans to spray chemicals in the air to eradicate the light brown apple moth, the state's top pest control official said Friday. The California Department of Food and Agriculture's acting director of pest prevention, Robert Leavitt, said the department is looking at other means to rid the state of the invasive insect. His comments came during a call with reporters to announce the release of the final environmental impact report on the state's moth eradication program.

In late 2007 and early 2008, the CDFA sprayed a substance that mimicked the insect's sex pheromones to keep them from finding mates. The effort caused a firestorm of complaints in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties and the Bay Area.

County residents including Mike Lynberg of Pacific Grove opposed the actions on health grounds. He set up a post office box and Craigslist account to catalog health complaints when the CDFA sprayed Monterey County twice and Santa Cruz County once in 2007.

"Time has made it more clear than ever for me that what they did was a travesty," said Lynberg, who collected hundreds of symptom reports.

In November 2008, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the departments of Pesticide Regulation and PublicHealth released an after-the-fact report on the spray's toxicology. The agencies concluded that while ill effects were unlikely, they couldn't be disproved.

Many are concerned that, with rural spraying still on the table, Monterey County could be at risk from the CDFA's program.

David Dilworth, the head of the organization Helping Our Peninsula's Environment, says that if the agency treats rural areas, the fog might still float to cities.

"There are lots of places in Monterey County that have less than 100 people per square mile right next to highly populated areas," Dilworth said.

But agriculture officials worry the Australian moth could inflict heavy damage on crops.

One of two eradication techniques that Leavitt said were the "preferred alternatives" would involve baiting twist ties with female-attracting scent to overwhelm the moths' mating urges. The other approach would be to release sterile males in infested areas to disrupt the female moth mating cycle. 

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Pest Control - Holiday border crackdown targets fruit, raw pork

 

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
(12-09) 02:14 PST Hidalgo, Texas (AP) --

The mountain of oranges, tangerines, lemons and more exotic fruits piled in the customs office at the Hidalgo international bridge in Texas on Thanksgiving Day would have made any grocer proud.

But the booty of Operation Gobble Gobble was destined for the industrial garbage disposal and left the cramped office filled with the sweet aroma of ground citrus. It was part of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection effort at the U.S.-Mexico border to protect U.S. agriculture from pests and diseases often carried by popular holiday ingredients.

"At this time of the year, we really do try to raise the awareness of the traveling public on the potential of introducing a pest or disease that could be damaging to American agriculture," said Diana Vlasik, agency's chief agriculture specialist at the international bridges in Pharr and Hidalgo, about 150 miles southwest of Corpus Christi.

Among the threats: the Mexican fruit fly, exotic Newcastle disease - an illness fatal to poultry - and bacteria that causes citrus greening, which has ravaged groves in Florida.

During the holidays, customs officers watch closely for certain fruits, raw pork and long stalks of sugar cane. Those products are banned year-round. But from Thanksgiving through the New Year, the border is jammed with less experienced travelers visiting relatives in Mexico or the U.S., as well as those who know better but are willing to risk confiscation and a fine to deliver key ingredients for a Christmas punch or tamales.

Generally, the searches are easier than those for narcotics, which are stowed in tires, gas tanks and secret compartments. These targets are usually out in the open or packed inside a cooler, an exception being some raw pork sausage packed into a diaper last year.

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