Government spending in excess of seventy million dollars has failed to turn up any effective method of eradicating a nonnative insect pest that has farmers and wine producers panicking. The universally hated invasive insect in question is called the “light brown apple moth (LBAM),” and if this pest is not eradicated it could wind up costing farmers one hundred and thirty three million dollars per year in damages. In desperation researchers are turning to the use of radiation to render these troublesome creatures sterile.
The LBAM has caused extensive crop damage since the moth was first discovered in the United States in 2007. The moth is native to Australia. Since this month’s destructive tendencies were first observed several years ago, scientists have been laboring to find a way to eradicate the moth from US soil.
Recently researchers have demonstrated that the moths can be rendered sterile by introducing small amounts of radiation into the moth’s habitat. Preventing these moths from reproducing marks the first promising step towards eradication of the moth species from US farmland. Now researchers are focusing on how much radiation is necessary to eradicate the moth population while ensuring that the radiation levels will not result in adverse health consequences for consumers.
How could the light brown apple moth have arrived in North America if it is native only to Australia?