Utah Pest News Winter 2011

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Detection of Invasive Pests in Utah Demonstrates Importance of CAPS

The Cooperative Agricultural Pests Survey (CAPS) is a federal program designed to reduce the impact of introduced plant pests through monitoring and early detection. The program is managed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA–APHIS) and each state. The Utah CAPS program is cooperatively administered by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) and Utah State University (USU).

The importance of this program cannot be overstated. It has been estimated that invasive plant pests result in a $41 billion dollar annual loss to American agriculture, and this does not even include the cost of control measures. The pests that CAPS monitors for could potentially devastate local agriculture if not detected and controlled early. For example, the silver Y moth (Autographa gamma) feeds on over 200 different plant species, including crops that are economically important to Utah, such as alfalfa, corn, and wheat. If the silver Y moth were to become established in Utah, many industries would be heavily impacted, so monitoring for this and other invasive pest species is obviously important.

Each year, several surveys are conducted by various entities throughout the state, including UDAF and USU. Pests of concern are identified and potential hosts are monitored by trapping or other means. Occasionally a target pest is found; when this occurs, the information is passed on to APHIS, who collaborates with UDAF to develop an appropriate response plan. Depending on the pest, where it was found, and how many were found, the response could include a combination of further monitoring, eradication or control efforts, or quarantine. The strategy adopted also considers the local residents and economy, and although some citizens may not be as receptive as others to some measures, such as spray programs, these measures are better than the alternative of a severe long term pest infestation.

In 2010, three surveys were conducted by Dr. Cory Vorel, the CAPS Coordinator at USU, in cooperation with UDAF. These included a fruit pest survey, an exotic moth survey, and a survey for wood boring and bark beetles.

The fruit pest survey targeted three species: light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana), European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana), and spotted wing drosophila (SWD, Drosophila suzukii, Fig. 2). Traps were placed at 10 sites in Box Elder, Weber, Davis, and Utah counties (Fig. 3). Neither of the moth species was found, but unfortunately, SWD was detected in Kaysville. SWD has been found in many states over the past two years; therefore, it was not surprising that it was detected in Utah. However, it is a cause for concern. A spotted wing drosophila fact sheet containing more information about this pest is available on the Utah Pests website.

 Fig. 1.  Chinese Longhorned Beetle (Trichoferus campestris).

Fig. 2.  Male Spotted Winged Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii).


Fig. 3.  McPhail trap being placed in a cherry tree to monitor Spotted Winged Drosophila


 Seventy-nine sites were monitored this year for the presence of three exotic moth species: silver Y moth, Egyptian cottonworm (Spodoptera littoralis), and old world bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera). Alfalfa fields, corn fields, and facilities processing alfalfa or corn were monitored in 28 counties. Fortunately, none of these species was detected.

The third survey targeted 17 species of wood boring and bark beetles. Traps were placed at 14 sites statewide, representing a wide range of habitats, including industrial areas, wood importers, tree farms, and wild lands. Although identification of all of the trapped beetles is yet to be completed, one beetle of regulatory concern was identified. The Chinese longhorned beetle (Trichoferus campestris) (Fig. 1) was found in trap samples collected from an industrial area in Salt Lake County. This beetle, originating in Asia, is a wood-boring pest of apple, mulberry, and other trees. Future surveys are planned to determine the extent of the infestation and if any action is warranted.

Next year, in addition to expanded monitoring for the Chinese longhorned beetle, an extensive fruit pest survey is planned, targeting SWD, light brown apple moth, European grapevine moth, and five other insect species at 50 sites where cane berries, cherries, and peaches are grown, as well as sites where fruit is imported, processed, or distributed. Please contact Dr. Vorel (cory.vorel@usu.edu) if you would be willing to have traps placed on your land or at your facility.

-Cory Vorel, USU CAPS Coordinator