California has officially proclaimed the light brown apple moth
(LBAM) an unwelcome visitor, with a bill signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 7 establishing the LBAM Act of 2007.
The bill, SB 556, was introduced to the state legislature by Senator Patricia Wiggins in February, when LBAM was first identified in several Northern California counties. Wiggins represents much of California’s prime North Coast winegrowing region, including all or parts of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Solano, Lake and Humboldt counties.
LBAM is an Australian native that feeds on many different plants, stunting or deforming seedlings and injuring fruit-tree crops, citrus and grapes. Its behavior and control are virtually identical to that of omnivorous leafroller, already familiar to California grapegrowers.
According to Wiggins’ bill, “The introduction of the light brown apple moth represents a clear, present, significant and imminent danger to California’s natural environment and agricultural industry.”
The infested area “contains numerous sensitive plant and animal species and habitats,” the text continues. “There is an imminent threat for adverse effect and ultimate extinction to some of these sensitive species,” should LBAM establish a permanent foothold in the state.
The bill suggests that LBAM could have a “minimum potential impact of $133 million to only four of the potentially impacted crops (apples, pears, oranges and grapes), and environmental impact from increased pesticide use.”
The newly enacted law creates an LBAM program within the California Department of Food and Agriculture, beginning at once and mandated to allocate funds to counties and provide local assistance in eradicating the pest.