The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced Thursday it will continue a program looking for a destructive moth with the potential to damage the state's grape and wine industry.
Up to 1,500 grapevine moth traps will be placed around the state by mid-July, according to Mike Klaus, WSDA's pest survey coordinator for Eastern Washington. Traps will be placed in each of the 11 major wine grape growing regions. Klaus said the traps will be checked every two-to-four weeks during the summer and then taken down in September. A similar WSDA survey in 2010 yielded no detections of the pest.
The European grapevine moth was found for the first time in the U.S. in September 2009 in California's Napa Valley. Klaus emphasized the grapevine moth has not been detected in Washington.
"The goal of the survey is to protect Washington's grape industry by preventing the establishment of this invasive species," Klaus said. "We want to detect it as early as possible if it does arrive. If the grapevine moth were to become established here, it could pose a serious threat to our grape and wine industries."
If grapevine moths are found, state agriculture officials will place more traps in the area in an attempt to find the center of the infestation. Officials say they would also consult immediately with state and federal agencies to determine the best course of action, as well as reach out to industry stakeholders.
"We greatly appreciate the focus on European grapevine moth from WSDA," said Vicky Scharlau, executive director, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. "The damage potential from this pest, and all pests and diseases, is a huge concern to us and we have to stay vigilant or pay the price."
Washington is the second-largest grape-growing state in the U.S. and number two producer of wines with 700 licensed wineries.
Washington's 11 primary grape regions are the Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Puget Sound, Red Mountain near Benton City, Columbia Gorge south of Goldendale, Horse Heaven Hills near Prosser, Wahluke Slope near Mattawa, Rattlesnake Hills near Zillah, Snipes Mountain near Sunnyside and Lake Chelan.