State restricts spraying to control invasive moth, but environmentalists not convinced

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The brown apple moth.

A recent court ruling has restricted California’s efforts to use aerial spraying to control an invasive moth, but environmental groups are still concerned about eradication plans.

While the ruling prohibits the use of aerial spraying to control the light brown apple moth, a pest the state fears is threatening crops, officials can continue to use other treatments.

Erin Tobin with Earthjustice says the state was spraying in populated areas between Monterey and Santa Cruz "and applying chemicals about which we know very little, in places that could impact families and children, so it’s a big concern."

The state originally got approval for its chemical spraying program five years ago by declaring the pest an emergency situation. However, UC Davis entomologist Jim Carey argues that the tiny, nondescript moth isn’t a threat to crops at all.

"Even if it was bad pest, there was no chance to eradicate," says Carey. "Yet this program has just taken on life of its own, and there’s no end in sight. It’s unbelievable."

The state didn’t return a request for comment.

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