Egg masses belonging to vine pest the glassy-winged sharpshooter have been discovered in nurseries in Santa Rosa, California.

The sharpshooter, which spreads Pierce’s Disease, a malady fatal to vines, can live on a variety of plants including citrus fruits and ornamental plants.

Over the last three years millions of dollars have been pumped into statewide programmes to limit the spread of the insect. In 2000, vineyards in Temecula were devastated by Pierce’s, prompting the government to declare an agricultural emergency and to pledge US$22m (€23.3m) in aid.

Since then the insect and its eggs have been detected as far north as Santa Barbara and Kern, although vine damage has so far been limited to the southern areas of the state.

In this case, the eggs were discovered by inspectors on four plants at three different nurseries in Santa Rosa. Despite rigorous controls, it is almost impossible to inspect every plant shipped north from southern California, where the insect is entrenched.

Both Napa and Sonoma have budgets of between US$300,000 (€318,000) and US$750,000 (€794,000) and up to 15 full-time employees working on sharpshooter control programmes.

Furthermore, wine magazine Wine Spectator reports some 200 Napa growers support a self-taxing proposal to raise funds to control the pest.

Written by Adam Lechmere17 June 2002