Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mothra Vs. Napa

Beware everyone. It has come to Napa. Save yourself. Don’t be a hero. Run for cover. It’s terrorizing the landscape of California's famous wine country and will inflict its wrath on everything and everyone in its path!!

Story goes that a powerful typhoon causes the egg of the heroic giant insect Moth to be swept away from its home on Infant Island and to be washed ashore in....California. It finally settles in Napa to ravage the landscape while satiating its grape eating lust.

Could it be.....


Well ok maybe not, but it is the next most ferocious thing! A well-kept secret has now reared its ugly head, or should I say wings. It appears that a ravenous grape-eating moth from Europe has made its way to the California landside. The finger of suspicion is pointed at the act of smuggling in cane cuttings. These cuttings are brought in to clone vines from Bordeaux's top estates. Though many shrug off this accusation, its not far off base since an acre of top grapes can fetch $15,000 in Napa. These acts of smuggling do happen, but is there any plausibility to this story? Entomologists say the life cycle of the moth, native to Italy but found across eastern Europe and the Middle East, makes it difficult for it to survive on cuttings, so the suitcase smuggling theory might not hold up, regardless of the hype.

So how could it have happened? A better theory is that the moth surreptitiously eluded inspectors on any number of container ships. So who is right? The USDA says it may never know the exact cause, but they are investigating all leads. Quarantine in Napa has begun as swarms have destroyed some the local vineyard harvests. “This pest directly attacks the fruit and the flower, and that is tremendously concerning,” said Bruce Phillips, who farms 70 acres of grapes inside the quarantine zone. “If we are not successful in eradication, this could present serious long-term costs for us.” So far, local areas in Yountville, St. Helena and over the border into Sonoma have been quarantined. Greg Clark, the assistant agricultural commissioner for Napa County, says hundreds of traps have been setup to draw the insects into sticky strips. Can you say Moth’s check in, but they don’t check out? I guess it beats moth balls. Until next time….

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