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Moth threatens Napa vineyards

A potentially devastating pest is threatening the vineyards of Napa Valley.

An infestation of the European grapevine moth has prompted state officials to issue a 419 square km (162 square mile) quarantine in parts of Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture imposed the quarantine on Tuesday to prevent the spread of the moth, Lobesia botrana (pictured), which has been attacking the flowers and fruit of local vines.

The quarantine was initiated to prevent the artificial or human-aided spread of the pest, and restricts the movement of fruit, plants and farm equipment.

According to the local authorities, the moth’s larvae feed on grape flowers and berries, and can cause devastating bunch rot.

The pest was first discovered in the Oakville district in September 2009, just before the harvest was due to begin.

‘This is the first time it’s been found in the United States, and so we’re working with the state and federal governments to try to identify how it got here,’ Greg Clark, assistant Napa County agriculture commissioner said.

Since September, the moth has increasingly been found in traps across the region, from St. Helena to Yountville.

Parts of Sonoma County are already under quarantine after the Light Brown Apple moth was discovered there in 2007.

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Written by James Lawrence

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