Washington State Department of Agriculture To Survey For Presence Of Destructive Moths

Washington State Department of Agriculture, with cooperation from the USDA, will survey the state’s major winegrape growing regions for four species of destructive moths.

Approximately 1,000 traps will be set for European Grapevine Moth, European Grape Berry Moth, Grape Tortrix, and Grapevine Tortrix. These traps will be placed throughout the state’s 13 major winegrape regions between late May and July, according to Mike Klaus, WSDA entomologist and survey coordinator for Eastern Washington.

Trappers will focus on vineyards and will also target backyard grape vines near potential pathways of pest introduction. Klaus said the traps will be checked every two to four weeks during the summer and then taken down in September. Similar WSDA surveys conducted the past two years yielded no detection of the pests.

“Our trappers will have state identification and welcome any questions landowners may have,” Klaus added. “We’ll be trapping from the San Juan Islands to the Columbia Gorge to Okanogan, but our emphasis will be in Yakima, Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla counties.”

The European grapevine moth was found for the first time in the U.S. in 2009 in Napa Valley, a serious threat to California’s wine industry. After its initial detection in Napa Valley, the pest has been found in several other counties. Some California growing regions are under quarantine.

In 2013, the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released $16.9 million in emergency funding to prevent the spread of European grapevine moth in the Golden State.

If any of the four species of targeted moths are found in the Evergreen State this summer, state agriculture officials may place more traps in the area in an attempt to find the center of the infestation. Officials say they would also consult immediately with state and federal agencies to determine the best course of action, as well as reach out to industry stakeholders.

“We greatly appreciate the focus of the grape pest survey from WSDA,” said Vicky Scharlau, executive director, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. “The damage potential from these pests, and all pests and diseases, is a huge concern to us and we have to stay vigilant or pay the price.”

Klaus emphasized that none of the moth species have been detected in Washington. “The goal of the survey is to protect Washington’s grape industry by preventing the establishment of these invasive moths,” Klaus said. “We want to detect them as early as possible if any do arrive. If any of these grape pests were to become established here, they could pose a serious threat to our grape and wine industries.”

WSDA will also resume a limited survey for grape phylloxera, an aphid-like pest that attacks grape roots. Washington State University and WSDA have detected grape phylloxera at a few locations in Eastern Washington vineyards and backyard grape plantings as recently as 2002.

Grape phylloxera is considered to be the most serious grape pest worldwide, especially on vinifera grapes. California growers have experienced significant losses, sometimes requiring the removal and replanting of entire vineyards. WSDA has cooperated with WSU several times over the last 25 years in surveys for grape phylloxera. However, in Washington, official surveys for the pest have not been conducted since 2002. The control of grape phylloxera is costly and is only achieved after many pesticide applications over several years. Planting resistant rootstocks has been the primary control measure. However, new biotypes in California are known to attack previously resistant rootstocks. Washington vineyards may be vulnerable since they are generally planted on their own nonresistant roots.

In the mid-1990s, a new pest of grapes, the vine mealybug, was found in California. WSUentomologist Doug Walsh has been conducting surveys for vine mealybug along with research on another established mealybug species, the grape mealybug. To date, vine mealybug has not been detected in Washington.

WSDA has a quarantine in effect for both grape phylloxera and vine mealybug to prevent these threats to the Washington winegrape industry from spreading.

Source: Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers news release

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