New moth pest discovered in Oregon

Light brown apple moth shows up in an Oregon trap
By Oregon Dept. of Agriculture

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has confirmed a single detection of light brown apple moth, marking the first time the insect pest has been found in the state. However, ODA officials emphasize there is no evidence that a breeding population of the moth exists in Oregon, and that the insect most likely came in with imported nursery stock.

The single light brown apple moth (LBAM) was found in a trap last summer located in a Polk County nursery. In 2010, ODA placed 1,000 traps for LBAM throughout the state. No other moths were caught in the area or elsewhere in Oregon. The screening and identification of exotic moths from these traps can take months and the suspect specimen has just been confirmed.

“So far, the evidence points to a hitchhiker moth that arrived at the Polk County nursery with plant material shipped into Oregon,” says Helmuth Rogg, manager of ODA’s Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program. “Considering we had two traps at the nursery that were checked twice over the summer, catching only one specimen indicates this is not an established population of the moth. A thousand other LBAM traps across the state were also negative.”

The light brown apple moth was first detected in the continental US in 2007 when it was found in California’s Bay Area. LBAM is native to Australia, where it is considered a serious pest in fruit orchards, if not managed. The detection in Oregon is the first time LBAM has been found in the continental US outside of California. The pest has been established in Hawaii.

“A single moth catch is no indicator of an established population, so no regulatory action is necessary at this time,” says Rogg. “However, this detection points to the effectiveness and importance of ODA’s early warning system that helps us detect an insect pest invasion early. California’s experience shows how important it is to catch these kinds of invaders early on so it is possible to prevent pests from moving in. Also, it is much more economic to invest in a good surveillance and early detection system than waiting until a new pest has fully established, and then try to eradicate it.”

To ensure the LBAM detection in Oregon is an isolated incident, ODA will place a high concentration of traps in an around the Polk County nursery starting as early as February, depending on the weather. The pheromone traps are very specific for LBAM and are similar to what ODA uses for gypsy moth detection.

ODA officials emphasize that Oregon nursery stock and all other agricultural commodities are not impacted by the single LBAM detection.

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