Vine mealybug, Light brown apple moth on prowl

In addition to the usual cast of pest characters that warrant attention, vine mealybug (VMB) deserves a little closer attention this year based on last year’s problems.

“There were some vineyards last season that had such bad mealybug infestations that growers threw up their hands and walked away from harvest,” says Gary Osteen, Kern County independent PCA. “In other cases, there were some table grapes that growers couldn’t sell, so it went to juice.”

PCAs are urging diligence and exclusion for the vine mealybug.

“Growers better be paying attention to it this year, and they better be paying attention to it now as well as following through with applications throughout the season,” Osteen says. “Based on what we saw last year when other pest pressures were relatively light, it is not something we can dismiss and hope everything turns out okay.”

Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) continues to be a critical concern. A single LBAM was recently detected in Sonoma County, and additional traps have been placed to increase monitoring capabilities. In Santa Barbara County, where a single moth was found in early February, intensive trapping has detected no additional moths to date.

CDFA efforts to contain LBAM have met with considerable resistance from local communities such as Monterey and Santa Cruz where spraying anything.

“There’s still a huge need to educate the public on what we’re doing to try to eradicate this pest,” says A.G. Kawamura, secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture. “A lot of people out there don’t understand what a pheromone is, let alone how potentially devastating this pest could get.”

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