Source: Silicon Valley Mercury News
FRESNO, Calif.—European entomologists have joined colleagues from across the U.S. to focus their magnifying glasses on Napa Valley grapevines and their problem-solving skills on how to keep a hungry moth from destroying some of the world's most valuable fruit.
"I feel like the Calvary is riding to the rescue. But we didn't wait for them to get here to circle the wagons," said Dave Whitmer, the agricultural commissioner of Napa County.
The cadre is key to an intensifying state and federal battle against the European grapevine moth as it grips California's premier wine country and one of its most famous industries. The estimated retail value of California wine sold in the U.S. in 2009 was $17.9 billion.
Already the moth has forced a state quarantine across much of the Napa Valley that will restrict movement of fruit and equipment during harvest. Yet despite the crackdown, the voracious eater hitchhiked this month into neighboring Sonoma County, where state mapping for another quarantine is in the works.
As the weather warms and larvae emerge from eggs laid last year, state and federal agriculture officials hope the scientists from France, Italy, Germany and Chile—where the moth already exists—can help form a plan to fight it.
"We're using them to help us make decisions," said the USDA's Larry Hawkins, as he sleuthed Napa back roads..
Among the questions being considered are whether farmers will contain the moth inside the quarantine or if their methods to eradicate the moth will risk some vintners' organic certification.
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