Grape-killing bug could be in California by 2027

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — According to a study by North Carolina State University (NCSU), an invasive insect that could seriously affect the winemaking industry could arrive in California’s vineyards by 2027.

NCSU researchers have been investigating the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), an insect discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014, experts say, which originated in China and has reached at least 11 states.

Researchers say the insect could reach California in about five years — if efforts to control the pests stop.

This is a major concern for grape growers; it could lead to billions of dollars in losses in the agricultural sector

Chris Jones, lead author

Aside from grapes, the spotted lanternfly can affect almonds, cherries, peaches, and pine trees, among others. According to NCSU researchers, the insect kills the plants by feeding on it, leaving behind a residue known as “honeydew” that causes mold to grow.

The study suggests that California, known for producing about 82% percent of the country’s grapes, has been identified as a place with a “very suitable” climate for the spotted lanternfly.

Researchers say it’s difficult to predict the effects of the West Coast spotted lanternfly because the studies were done in cold-producing regions, such as Pennsylvania, where they’ve seen vineyard losses from the cold weather and spotted lanternflies.

Researchers in California said there is a small chance of reaching the wine counties by 2027, but a high chance by 2033.

Click here to read the full study.

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