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New apple tree pest could have negative effect on Lake Country orchards

The larvae of the Apple Clearwing Moth can kill apple trees. It has arrived in Lake Country. - Contributed
The larvae of the Apple Clearwing Moth can kill apple trees. It has arrived in Lake Country.
— image credit: Contributed

A new pest has arrived in Lake Country, threatening the area's apple orchards and a spraying program to control a potential outbreak will have to wait until next year.

District of Lake Country (DLC) council heard from the B.C. Fruit Grower's Association this week who reported Lake Country apple growers and facing a new pest that could potentially kill apple trees with the arrival of the Apple Clearwing Moth in Lake Country.

"The larvae can go under the bark of the tress and can kill it and reduce productivity," said Glen Lucas, B.C. Fruit Grower's Association general manager. "There is a pheromone out there that we can use (to control it). We had application to use it in Lake Country but were too late (to get approval)."

DLC councilors heard that the pest is just one of the issues facing the fruit growing industry in the area but the arrival of the new pest in Lake Country set off alarm bells around the table.

Discussion centred around so called back-yard trees, apple trees that individuals have on their property. Coun. Penny Gambell said it is vitally important that folks maintain the trees because if not they will have a negative effect on the entire industry.

"It's important for people to understand when they keep a tree in their backyard and if they aren't vigilant and thinking about their neighbors they could be creating an infestation," said Gambell, an apple orchardist. "If they are not doing a good job with their tree they are infesting everyone else."

Lucas agreed with Gambell and said most pests arrive and threaten orchards through residential areas. He said they are trying to work with the Sterile Insect Release (SIR) program to treat the Apple Clearwing Moth.

"We hope to expand the ability of SIR to control the pests and hopefully expand the program with funding from the provincial and federal governments'" said Lucas.

Lucas said his group was working on a proposal to control the Apple Clearwing Moth this year but failed to complete it by the deadline. He said they would like to be ready with a potential program to control the new bug and treat the entire regional district.

"We are fairly optimistic about next year," said Lucas.

The SIR program is a federal/provincial funded initiative, administered by theĀ  four regional districts.

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