Pest alert Ð light-brown apple moth |

Pest alert Ð light-brown apple moth

JoAnne Skelly
For the Appeal

Nevada Department of Agriculture is on the lookout for a new pest, the light-brown apple moth. This Australian pest was recently discovered in California.

Since Nevada receives shipments of nursery stock from growers in the California counties where the moth has been found, this pest is of great concern here. It has become an established problem in the British Isles, Hawaii, New Caledonia and New Zealand. The federal quarantine that was in place to restrict the movement of this pest from California has been replaced by a California state interior quarantine. Nursery stock coming from infested counties will be accompanied by a certificate of quarantine compliance issued by California Department of Food and Agriculture or a federal shield, or both.

Most pests only attack plants in one family, but this moth can attack plants in 50 different plant families, giving it the potential to become extremely destructive. Plants that can be damaged in Nevada include alfalfa, apple, blackberry, broccoli, cabbage, cherries, clover, cottonwood, grape, peaches, potato, raspberry, willow and even conifer.

The Nevada Department of Agriculture will be placing traps throughout the state to monitor for this pest. So far, most interceptions of the moth have been connected to international flights. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also harbor eggs and larvae (caterpillars). The pest also travels in nursery stock and live plants.

Some of the signs of infestation are larvae and webbing on the undersides of leaves near the main rib or large veins. The larvae are small and hard to see. Some leaves may be rolled and bound with silk. There may be egg masses on leaves or irregular brown areas on fruits. The brown areas on the fruit turn into scars. It is difficult to detect both the eggs and the larvae.

The egg masses are tiny and green to brown in color. There may be 50 eggs in a mass, overlapping like shingles. Females can lay more than 1,000 eggs and begin laying eggs at two to three days old. In warm areas, four generations may occur in a year. This moth looks like many other moths and are difficult to identify, so any suspect moths should be sent for identification to Jeff Knight, state Entomologist, Nevada Department of Agriculture. Call Knight, 688-1182, ext. 245, for details.

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For information, e-mail or call me at 887-2252. You can “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing or call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.