The glassy-winged sharpshooter, a menace to California grapegrowers, is at it again--this time in Arizona, where the insect is making a repeat appearance. Over the past month, Arizona Department of Agriculture officials report, 22 adult sharpshooters have turned up in traps in a 3-square-mile area in Sierra Vista, a 45-minute drive from one of the state's two major winegrowing regions. Governor Janet Napolitano has declared a state of emergency, freeing up $200,000 to combat the pest, which carries vine-killing Pierce's disease.
The money will be used to expand the state's trapping program in an effort to assess the extent of the infestation and start fighting it, said Katy Decker, spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Agriculture. "Then in fiscal year 2007, we hope for additional funding for eradication of the pest," she said.
Agriculture officials do not yet know whether the most recent spate of adults was born in Arizona or whether the insects, which feed on a wide range of vegetation, came in this season on plants from an infested area in another state, according to Decker.
The sharpshooter first became a serious concern for Arizona wineries and grapegrowers in August 2005, when eight adults and two egg masses were discovered in a Sierra Vista nursery and the surrounding residential area. The insects had apparently entered the state on ornamental plants brought in from a wholesale nursery in Southern California. Two years earlier, the pest had been found in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, further from the state's winegrowing regions, and an eradication program was put in place.
Although Arizona is not a major player on the wine scene, it has a small but growing $18 million wine industry. The majority of Arizona's wineries are located in the southeastern corner of the state, about an 80-mile drive from Sierra Vista.
The glassy-winged sharpshooter and the Pierce's disease it transmits nearly decimated Temecula Valley, one of Southern California's main wine regions, in 1998 and '99. At that time, more than 30 percent of Temecula's vines were destroyed. The insect continued to spread north into California's Central Valley, infesting its table and wine grape vineyards. It has even been spotted on a number of occasions as far north as Napa and Sonoma counties, usually in nurseries or new housing sites, on ornamental plants brought in from infested counties in the southern part of the state.
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