Oregon appears to have escaped a serious new threat to the state's fruit orchards, including those in Milton-Freewater.
Although a single light brown apple moth was found last summer in Polk County, an extensive trapping program shows there is no evidence a breeding population exists in the state, the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced today.
In a release, Helmuth Rogg, manager of ODA's Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program, said the evidence, so far, "points to a hitchhiker moth that arrived at the Polk County nursery with plant material shipped into Oregon."
After the single moth was detected, the department placed 1,000 traps throughout the state baited for light brown apple moths. No other moths were caught.
"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," Rogg said.
The light brown apple moth was first detected in the continental U.S. in 2007 when it was found in California's Bay Area. The moth 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 the moth has been found outside of California. The pest has been established in Hawaii.
Starting Wednesday, agriculture workers will place a high concentration of traps in and around the Polk County nursery to ensure the detection Oregon is an isolated incident, Rogg said.
The trapping program cost about $100,000, Rogg said, the majority of which was paid by federal funds. But the cost to detect and prevent an infestation pales when compared to the millions of dollars that would be lost to the state's fruit industry if the pest became established.
Andy Porter can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.