The European pepper moth—a serious pest of peppers—has become entrenched in Georgia's pepper production area.
But the good news is it appears that control measures aimed at other pests, such as armyworms and pepper weevils, have kept the European pepper moth in check, according to a news release.
In addition to peppers, the pest—known scientifically as Duponchelia fovealis and a native of southern Europe—also has an affinity for ornamentals, particularly lantana.
Traps first detected the pest in Georgia last year when one was picked up at the port of Savannah.
The pest already had been detected in North America by Canadian inspection officials who qurantined a plant shipment from California in 2010 after identifying the moth.
Lance Osborne, a University of Florida entomologist and head of a U.S. Department of Agriculture national task force, asked David Riley, University of Georgia vegetable entomologist, to assess the pest's treat.
Within one day of placing a pheromone trap in experimental vegetable plots at the University of Georgia campus in Tifton, Riley picked up a pepper moth.
Subsequent trapping showed that Grady County, which lies just north of the Florida border and has significant pepper production, was a hot zone.
But Riley said intensive pepper management practices appeared to be controling the European pepper moth.
Riley also detected the pest within 24 hours of setting a trap in an ornamental nursery in Grady County.
Although the nursery was using the pesticide bifenthrin, tests conducted by Riley showed it was ineffective against the European pepper moth. In fact, it increased pepper moth populations.
Subsequent trials showed that spinetoram controled the pest.
For more information on the European pepper moth, visit the University of Florida's Featured Creatures.