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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Light brown apple moths found in Woodland

The light brown apple moth (LBAM) may be a native pest to Australia, but it has made its way to California – and most recently Yolo County.

Woodland discovered the second light brown apple moth late last month and is considering implementing a quarantine.

Steve Lyle, California Department of Food and Agriculture director of public affairs, said Woodland does not officially have a quarantine in place for the LBAM, although there will be one in the future.

“We are still working on establishing the regulations and it will be a little while longer until we have that in place,” Lyle said.

Nine LBAMs have been found in Davis since 2008, causing concern throughout the county. A fully-established moth infestation could cost California over $100 million in damage, Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson said in a press release.

LBAMs are considered pests because they destroy plants such as citrus, grapes and deciduous fruit tree crops. The quarantine will impact nurseries, landscapers, packing houses and green waste handlers.

Yolo County Agriculture Commissioner John Young said the quarantine will not be noticeable to the average Yolo County resident, but anyone transporting products that may move the LBAM with them should know the county regulations.

“Quarantines are very effective,” Young said. “They are used all the time up and down the state.”

The Bay Area is already infested with the LBAM, while Yolo County only has 11 reported moths, making it an outlier population. In San Francisco County there are 81,000 moths, Santa Cruz County 70,000 and in Alameda County 47,000 moths, Young said.

The quarantine will be funded by the state, but Lyle from the CDFA declined to state how much a quarantine in Woodland would cost.

Lucia Varela, Integrated Pest Management advisor for UC Cooperative Extension, has been studying LBAM and visited New Zealand to examine how the country is controlling the pest.

“Usually when an exotic pest comes in the state they can do several things,” Varela said. “[The state] could decide it is everywhere and not do anything about it or they can decide to eradicate or control.”

In Woodland and the Davis area, Yolo County decided to attempt to eradicate and control the pest. Many debate the issue as many other exotic pests have made it into California.

“It’s a bad pest, but it can be managed,” Varela said.

Even the LBAMs date of entry into California is a bone of contention, said Varela, but it is mostly agreed that it was first found in 2006 by a UC Berkeley professor. The pace at which the pest has spread throughout the state has yet to be proven.

“The genetic variability in California [LBAMs] is similar to the genetic variability to moths in Australia,” Varela said.

This evidence leads many to believe the California LBAM was brought in from Australia, the native land of the pest.

SASHA LEKACH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


  1. This guy goes to any site that mentions LBAM and copies and pastes the same lies and damn lies. All he is doing is spreading fear. I only wish all the farmers who have lost their crops to LBAM could send him a bill for their loss. And we could all send him a bill for the higher cost of the produce we are buying. On and the medical bills for the cancer we will be getting for the increased use of pesticides that you neighbors will be using in their yards because of this moths. His lies are going to change those facts.


    Over the last 4 years, scientists have had time to conclude their research and farmers have experience now with the moth:

    1. The moth is not dangerous to crops in California any more than thousands of other moths & insects living in California.

    2. A fifth generation farmer said of Steve Lyle: Steve Lyle, the PR Director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has lies come out of his mouth like bats out of a cave.

    3. The Light Brown Apple Moth has caused NO damage in California, even though CDFA has falsely reported damage to the media for 3 years now and unfortunately decent trusting people, including ag commissioners and county supervisors who assume its true somewhere else, innocently repeat the false messages of danger.

    4. CDFA top management do this program for about $100 Million of our taxpayer dollars every year for their agency & then they deliver the $$$ NOT TO FARMERS, but to privileged insiders at large chemical corporations in the form of contracts for unnecessary pesticides.

    5. The moth is not even suited to Woodland, too hot and too cold. Only lives in a few counties along the coast and there it has large mature populations in the millions and it is not damaging anything.

    For perspective, many insects have populations in the millions and billions. Other than entomologists looking for LBAM, very few ordinary people have ever seen one. Their almost identical brothers and cousin tortricidae micro moths in their family who are native to California have populations that are also in the millions, probably bigger than LBAM’s and they too are not taking over California as the Science Fiction impression that CDFA wants to create for LBAM.

    The numbers listed in this article (81,000 San Francisco, 70,000 Santa Cruz) are only the numbers that have been caught in traps, NOT the actual population of the insect.

    The few moths that show up in Woodland are like the few people that show up after hiking to the North Pole. They look around and check it out, but they don’t stay and raise families there (and even if they did, they are NOT bad neighbors).

    6. The quarantines and inspections and use of expensive pesticides forced onto farmer’s backs is the real problem while CDFA fakes the threat to keep the program (and $$$) flowing.

    7. Check with the top Ag scientists at UC Davis. They know the truth, but they don’t yet have the political clout to get these top management guys at CDFA put in prison for what they are doing.

    #8. PROOF: If you are interested, download the Draft EIR and read in Chapter #3, page 3-20, lines 5,6 and page 3-21, lines 3,4 below table 3-16. You will see that CDFA actually admits that all the LBAM crop damage reports that they have delivered to the media for three years now were false. “NO CROP DAMAGE” in California. It’s unbelievable when you actually read it.

    #9. If anyone tells you there really is damage from this Light Brown Apple Moth (even Helen Thomson or John Young or Lucia Varela or Sasha Lekach who have all innocently passed on CDFA propaganda in this article), then you and he/she get on the phone together and call the agriculture commissioner in the county where the damage is reported by CDFA or the press and you will see for yourself: No documentation of any such damage, just more stories initiated by CDFA and their corporate associates and spread by innocent trusting decent people.

    10. Flies also land on thousands of plants and things. That doesn’t mean they destroy the plants or Barbeques or fence posts that they land on.

    11. LBAM has been found at California ports of entry for many decades. Jerry Powell, a micro moth specialist out of UC Berkeley found two LBAM in his back yard, one each on two separate occasions, in 2006.

    Jerry may have been the only one in the state to recognize that they were LBAM because he lived in the southern hemisphere where LBAM is common and Jerry is a micro-moth specialist which LBAM is, being barely only one quarter inch long. LBAM looks nearly identical to other varieties of micro moths already living in California so had Jerry not noticed it, we still probably wouldn’t know we had LBAM in California.

    Anyway, the chances that those two moths individually visited Jerry’s yard on two separate occasions during the first year or within only a few years of when LBAM first arrived in California is about the same probability as winning the California lottery twice in the same year. So LBAM has been here more than just five calendar years ago when Jerry noticed it. 10 years at the minimum statistically and far more likely 30-50 years as non-CDFA Entomologists have estimated from considering its population numbers, thousands of square miles over which it currently lives in California and its known biological behavior.

    It’s been here in California for decades, and done Nothin’.

    Best to all.



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