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County ag officials in quest for grapevine moth

Sonoma County agriculture officials plan to set out 7,000 traps this spring in search of the invasive European grapevine moth.

The county will hire 10 extra workers to assist in setting out the traps around the county, said Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Neville.

The traps, part of a statewide effort, are needed to make sure the moth doesn't get established in the county's vineyards.

"It would be just devastating to the wine industry," Neville said.

In contrast, the county will use about 470 traps this spring to monitor another invasive pest, the light brown apple moth. The difference, Neville said, is officials already have good information on where the apple moth exists locally.

The grapevine moth, a native of Mediterranean Europe, was found in September in a Napa County vineyard. It was the first time the pest had been found in the United States.

The grapevine moth is deemed a threat to California's table grape and raisin crops, as well as to its wine grapes, officials said.

In response, Congress has allocated $332,000 for a grapevine-moth-trapping program throughout California, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The effort would seek to find if the pest exists anywhere outside Napa County.

As well, Napa grape industry leaders say they are encouraging growers there this spring to use organic and what they call low-impact pesticides wherever the pest is suspected.

In Sonoma County, Neville said, the moth-trapping program will begin in March.


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