Wasps to be released in Los Osos
July 8, 2011
By LISA RIZZO
State agricultural officials are releasing hundreds of tiny wasps in Los Osos neighborhoods to try to control infestations of the light brown apple moth that damages fruit and other plants.
“There is no risk to pets, humans or any other animals,” said San Luis Obispo County Chief Deputy Ag Commissioner Brenda Ouwerkerk. “People probably won’t be able to even see the wasps” which are about the size of a grain of rice and stinger-less.
For the next two weeks the wasps will be placed in areas near the Bay Oaks reserve off of Los Osos Valley Road to combat the moth species which is an invasive agricultural and environmental pest. The moth, a native to Australia, is known to damage crops, trees and plants.
State agriculture crews will place small cards with the wasp pupae on outdoor plants in the infested neighborhoods. When the adult wasps emerge they will seek out the eggs of the apple moth.
Residents will be contacted individually by crews distributing the wasp pupae.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) selected San Luis Obispo and Sacramento counties as test sites to release hundreds of the pale yellow wasps in known infested neighborhoods and areas as part of its latest integrated pest management tool to control the moth species.
The state’s efforts to eradicate the bug have faced opposition in California. In 2007, environmental groups successfully fought the spraying of a pheromone mixture which reportedly made hundreds of people sick in Monterey and Santa Cruz.
While the moth has only caused a small amount of crop damage in California, which is the only known infested area in the continental U.S., state agricultural officials say they want to take preventative measures to avoid widespread harm which has been reported in Australia.
“It’s a thoughtful approach that selects management options to achieve results while minimizing detrimental impacts,” said California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross in a statement.
Public meetings were held locally to inform people of the plans.