Sterile plans - Page 2

State decides to fight moths with moths after spraying program criticized
Little buggers

"The females won't be able to lay fertile eggs, but they might be putting out pheromones that draw wild males," Hawkins says, noting that the USDA may need to allocate more money to the program in addition to the funding now in place: $15 million in 2007 and $74.5 million in 2008.

The consequences of California having LBAM already include being quarantined by Canada, Mexico and Chile, with China and South Korea considering similar moves, Hawkins says.

"LBAM typically attacks leaves, but that doesn't mean it never attacks fruit," said Hawkins, who believes California is posing a risk by leaving the moths untreated this summer, and that the nation needs to build public awareness (see "Chemicals and quarantines," 03/05/08) about invasive pests given accelerating climate change and global travel.

"The insect has not stopped breeding, and our trapping data shows the insect continues to spread and its numbers to go up," Hawkins warned.

But Carey predicts that "the moth problem," in terms of damage to plants, will turn out to be "pretty much nothing on the ground."

"Trade is about dealing with risk, through an agreement between a buyer and seller, that if seller doesn't find X number of moths because the buyer has been spraying, then the seller can ship the produce," Carey opined. "This is the future of pest control."