Long Beach Hosts Trial Of Method To Eradicate Moth ‘Pest’

by Tiffany Rider, Staff Writer

One-square mile area of Long Beach is being used as an evaluation area of the effectiveness of an eradication program to eliminate the infestation of the light brown apple moth. The evaluation area extends from Ocean Boulevard north to 8th Street and from Temple Avenue east to Ximeno Avenue.

With the support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CFA) and the County of Los Angeles Agriculture Commissioner, an evaluation began on June 16 in which 100,000 to 500,000 sterilized moths are released weekly to disrupt the reproductive process of these pests. The process, called sterile insect technique, has been used to eradicate other invasive insects but is in the trial phases for eradicating the moth.

The light brown apple moth, a quarter-inch moth species, is a declared pest nationally and internationally. It was first discovered in California in 2007 and has threatened nurseries and agricultural crops in 20 counties. The moth, which is native to Australia, has been attacked over the years through quarantine measures such as aerial spraying of synthetic pheromones to disrupt mating and releasing wasps that kill the moth.

Long Beach was selected for an evaluation of the sterile insect technique because of the heavily concentrated infestation in the city, according to the supporting agencies.

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