Invasive grapevine pests discovered in North Bay

Two live glassy-winged sharpshooters were found in nursery shipments from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties to Marin and Sonoma counties.

The invasive pest feeds on more than 300 varieties of plants, fruits and vegetables and spreads lethal diseases to almonds and grapes, the Marin County Department of Agriculture said.

Inspectors captured nymph glassy-winged sharpshooters on Sept. 29 in Marin County and Sept. 30 in Sonoma County while checking incoming nursery plant shipments.

A viable egg mass also was found on the Sonoma County shipment, agricultural officials said.

Marin County Agricultural Commissioner Stacy Carlsen said:

“If the glassy-winged sharpshooter were to get established in the North Bay, the potential damage to the wine grape industry, landscape plants and the environment is significant.”

The adult specimens were hand-delivered to the California Department of Food and Agriculture entomology lab where they were identified, and all plant shipments from Venture and Santa Barbara counties were returned.

An adult glassy-winged sharpshooter can drain 200 to 300 times its bodyweight in water daily – the equivalent of a 150-pound adult drinking 4,300 gallons of water a day, agricultural officials said.

A tree heavily infested with the sharpshooter can lose up to 10-15 gallons of life-giving fluids a day and require significant irrigation to stay healthy.

According to Carlsen:

“This is especially concerning during a drought.”

Carlsen and Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said local nurseries notify their departments about plants received from areas infested with glassy-winged sharpshooters.