The avocado seed moth, Stenoma catenifer, could wreak havoc on California's avocados should the pest make its way to the state, according to UC Riverside entomologist Mark Hoddle.
Hoddle is in Peru until July to study pests of avocados in the South American country, according to a UC Riverside press release written by Iqbal Pittalwala. The avocado seed moth is native to Peru, and is particularly destructive in avocado-growing areas in the Chanchamayo region of the Junin District – a warm, humid jungle zone, the release said.
"As part of the Stenoma survey, we are prospecting also for unknown species of avocado fruit pests – those that have not been recorded attacking avocados before," Hoddle was quoted. "These would be the wild cards in invasion biology because we don't know what they are and we don't know how to look for them, or what their tell-tale damage signatures are. This type of information collected in collaboration with overseas trade partners will help us to more confidently identify risky invasive pests."
Hoddle said he and other scientists want to be fully prepared should this pest become established in California and threaten the state's $320 million avocado crop.
"We want to get ahead of the curve by proactively identifying any new pests, should they exist, and documenting in detail what damage they cause," he was quoted. "We also want to identify any natural enemies they may have and how effective these biocontrol agents are."