Apple Moth Threat Discovered in United States

Apple Moth Threat Discovered in United States


Apple Moth Discovery

The light brown apple moth has recently been found in California. This devastating pest is capable of causing widespread damage to agricultural crops if not contained, and has the potential to cost farmers a phenomenal amount to replace lost and destroyed plants. Because of this apple moth discovery, new control measures are being considered and implemented to prevent its spread.

Apple Moth Facts

In order to understand the threat the apple moth poses, it is a good idea to arm yourself with some basic facts about its origins, life cycle and feeding habits. By understanding the species in greater depth, it can become easier to think of ways to counter its spread.

The apple moth originates from Australia, but has since been introduced to a range including New Zealand, the British Isles and Hawaii. It is in these home nations the apple moth has been known to cause much damage, and thus helps to prepare us for the potential hazards a spread in Continental America may produce.

Apple moth eggs are laid in clusters of 3–150 on leaves or fruit. Adults produced by the overwintering larval generation emerge during October and November. It is between October and December that more egg-laying takes place, allowing for future generations of the apple moth to emerge. During all of this time, the apply moth feeds on apple trees and other similar species to sustain itself.

The apple moth is known to feed on just about every plant species in existence, leading some insect experts (entomologists) to label it the “light brown everything moth.” Because of this fact, coupled with the fact there are no natural enemies of the apple moth in North America, it is of great concern they have been discovered. Successfully containing such a sturdy species can prove difficult at best.

The apple moth larvae cause damage to foliage and fruit. Early instars feed on tissue beneath the upper surface layer of leaves while protected under self-constructed silk webs on the undersurface. Larger apple moth larvae migrate from these positions to construct feeding areas between adjacent leaves, between leaves and fruit, in developing buds or on a single leaf where the leaf roll develops.

Fruit damage is common in apple varieties which form compact fruit clusters. Leaves are often stuck to the fruit with webbing and the feeding injuries take place under the protection of the leaf itself. Internal damage to apple, pear, and citrus fruits is less common, but a young apple moth larva may enter the interior of an apple or pear fruit beneath the stem to eat the flesh contained deep within.

This damage makes many fruit harvests less valuable or unwanted entirely, as apples filled with holes from eating apple moth larvae are generally rather undesirable. In addition, a grave threat in the form of transference exists, wherein a shipment of fruit, vegetables or even flowers can contain hidden apple moth larvae or eggs, presenting the possibility of a new infestation.

Apple Moth Containment

Due to the serious threat posed by the apple moth, great efforts are now being taken to control its spread throughout the continental Americas. Pesticides, visual inspections and quarantines are all being imposed to ensure further crop damage is limited or eliminated. In particular, Canada has recently imposed quarantine on all cut flowers imported from California.

This quarantine is intended to prevent the apple moth from being introduced to Canada’s own fields, and requires all shipments be inspected and given a sanitary certificate before they are allowed into the country. This is causing trading strains and increased costs for shippers, making it all the more crucial the apple moth be contained as quickly as possible.

If you are a gardener or a farmer, it may be a wise idea to visit the CFIA website at to learn more information about the threat and what is being done to control it. By becoming aware of these facts you can begin a search throughout your own crops to make sure you aren’t being infested.

The unfortunate side-effect of this spread of apple moths is that there is potential for price increases in the future if containment is not successful. This would affect both the produce and floral industries, and would have a profound economic impact on each of them. Although apple moths present no physical harm to humans or animals, the threat to plants is very great indeed.

Newly-introduced species tend to cause the most damage, as can often be seen in many newer countries around the world (Australia in particular). They tend to be brought over by boat and by plane as unseen stowaways in shipping containers or luggage. Fortunately, continual efforts are being made to prevent the future spread of potentially dangerous pests.

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