DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - August 3, 2007

Sex with a twist

Aroma will attract male moths to end unwelcome invasion

by Jordan M. Doronila

Twist ties with an attractive aroma may eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth species in Danville, said state agriculture specialists, and stop it from damaging crops and plants.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will start installing the twist ties Monday in residential areas where there have been sightings of the moth. The twist ties are like thick shoelaces and have a light wire. They will be tied to places like fences and tree branches on Danville properties.

"It depends on what is available," said Jay Van Rein, spokesman for the CDFA.

The ties contain pheromone, which is the scent given off by a female moth to male moths when it is ready to mate. Department officials will place hundreds of the ties to confuse male moths and stop them from mating. Eventually, there will be no eggs and the moths will die off, agriculturalists hope.

"It's such a new thing," Van Rein said. "This is one of the most environmentally sensitive materials that we have used in eradication. There really isn't any impact on any other insects because the pheromone is specific to this moth."

Oakley and Napa started using the ties a few weeks ago, Van Rein said.

The moth has been trapped in Danville in the north area around the Remington loop; west of I-680 and Sycamore Valley Boulevard; south of the Greenbrook Drive overpass; on Fountain Springs Circle; and south of El Cerro Boulevard and Adobe Drive.

Members of the state agriculture department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the County Agricultural Commission held an informational meeting from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday at Danville Town Meeting Hall.

The Light Brown Apple Moth came from Australia and has spread to New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii and the British Isles. From Hawaii, it has traveled to California, said District 3 County Supervisor Mary N. Piepho. It was recently discovered in several places in the Bay Area.

California's diverse range of agriculture and natural plant life makes the state highly susceptible to exotic pest invaders such as this moth. The insect feeds on and damages plants and trees of a wide variety.

More than 250 plants are at risk of being attacked, including pear, citrus, peach, avocado, oak, willow, walnut, pine, eucalyptus, roses, jasmine, strawberry, table and wine grapes, berries and other ornamental shrubs, bushes and trees.

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com

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