The light brown apple moth can destroy young seedlings and feed on host plants – including citrus, grapes and berries. And the state has found enough of them in 16 counties across California to quarantine those areas – including the city of Davis. Yolo County Agriculture Commissioner John Young says officials will distribute twist-ties with a pheromone designed to confuse male moths.
Young: “And then the male moth cannot find the female, therefore disrupting the mating process and then the female can’t lay any viable eggs.”
But UC Davis entomology professor James Carey says the pheromone won’t be effective – and called it “money down a rathole.”
Carey: “You know, there’s some mountains you can’t move and some cancers you can’t cure, and there’s also some insects you can’t eradicate. It’s simply impossible.”
Environmentalists have questioned the safety of the state’s earlier eradication efforts that involved aerial spraying of pheromones. But Carey says the twist ties are much lower-risk.
Officials are holding an open house for Davis residents late next week. They’ll start placing the twist ties soon after that.