Apple moth restricts isle export of plants
Leis, vegetables, fruits and cut flowers must be inspected before being shipped out
A federal quarantine order was imposed yesterday, restricting exports of a wide range of plant material from Hawaii to the mainland, the state Department of Agriculture said.
The order issued by the U.S Department of Agriculture stemmed from the detection of the light brown apple moth last month in several counties in California, Hawaii state officials said.
Under the quarantine, nearly all plant material -- including flower leis, nursery stock, cut flowers, fruits and vegetables -- must be visually inspected and certified as free of the moth before being shipped.
"We are notifying local nurseries about the quarantine order and the increased inspection requirements," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, chairwoman of the state Board of Agriculture.
"We are also trying to coordinate with the local USDA inspection offices on how the quarantine order will be enforced."
A native of Australia, the moth feeds on a number of crops, including apples, pears, grapes, peaches and apricots.
Although the moth hasn't been a significant pest in Hawaii, the state will conduct surveys to provide population density information to federal officials.
If the moth isn't found in Hawaii's main agricultural areas, it will be easier to certify moth-free areas, decreasing the impact on Hawaii growers, the state said.
The light brown apple moth has appeared in the islands but hasn't been a significant pest in Hawaii since it was first detected in the islands in 1896, state officials said.
In fact, the moth may be considered a biocontrol agent for serious invasive weeds, such as blackberry and gorse, they said.