Wait! Is that the drone of helicopters? Does anyone else smell DDT?
We're under quarantine again, this time courtesy of the light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana), an invasive species native to Australia. This innocent looking little guy (maybe it's the nail through his neck) destroys, stunts or deforms young seedlings; spoils the appearance of ornamental plants; and injures deciduous fruit-tree crops, citrus and grapes. All in all, the LBAM (can we call him Bam-Bam?) has a taste for some 250 species of plants.
The quarantine was implemented on March 22, about a month after a retired entomologist found a couple of LBAMs in his backyard. Bam-Bam has been established in Hawaii for a while now, but this is his first appearance on the mainland. Santa Clara county was added to the quarantine zone on April 20, after being detected in Palo Alto and Los Altos a week earlier.
Because Bam-Bam doesn't have a very long flight range, he's mastered the art of hitchhiking. The California Department of Food and Agriculture was quick to develop this brochure to explain how you can thwart his travels. The good news is, Bam-Bam is also vulnerable to organic controls, including pheremone disruption, Bacillus thuringiensis and parasitic wasps.
While the state rushes to keep LBAM from spreading (which would be, um, BAD for our sizable agricultural exports), the rest of us can keep a lid on our green waste, not bring host plants (i.e. plants, period) to non-quarantined areas, and call CDFA if we see Bam-Bam.
After, of course, giving him a one-way ticket ¡STRAIGHT TO HELL! with a nail through the neck.
(Thanks to Ron and Joe for their reporting at SFGate.com.)