Three more pests to be regulated in valley

Control district adds two insects, fruit tree fungus to list of managed species

Three pests — two insects and a fungus — were added to the Upper Grand Valley Pest Control District’s list of regulated species last week, a move decided on by voters in the district and announced by the Board of Mesa County Commissioners.

Grape phylloxera, an aphid-like insect that feeds on grape roots; spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly able to lay eggs on unripened fruit; and strains of cytospora, a fungus that can infect fruit trees, joined nine insects and six weeds on the district’s list of regulated species.

By voting to include these pests on the list, voters in the district enabled the district to become more proactive in monitoring and managing these agricultural risks, said Teresa Nees, Mesa County Noxious Weed & Pest Management coordinator.

After Mesa County commissioners decided to put the issue of whether to include the pests on the list to voters in a special election, 985 ballots were mailed Feb. 8 to residents in the district who own parcels of five acres or more, said Stephanie Reecy, Mesa County spokesman. The ballots were due Feb. 22 and 394 completed ones were returned.

With voter approval to add the three pests to the list, district officials will be able to oversee their management and partner more fully with growers, horticulturists, researchers with Colorado State University and others in treatment and prevention, Nees said.

For grape growers, this is significant because grape phylloxera was discovered in the Grand Valley in November, though the district advisory committee had been discussing the possibility of it for at least a year, Nees said. Spotted wing drosophila was found in the pest control district in 2013, Nees said.

“The CSU Extension office had already been monitoring for it, so then they began trapping for it, and now we’re just trying to wrap our heads around treatment methods,” Nees said. “It’s worldwide that people have problems with it, so locally we’re asking what do we do and talking about prevention strategies and management methods.”

Fruit grower Trent Cunningham, a member of the district advisory committee, said that cytospora has been a problem not just within the district but in the Grand Valley for a long time, so adding it to the list of regulated species won’t necessarily affect how growers already deal with it.

“Our local CSU guys have really done some nice work on that organism over the past year,” Cunningham said. “We’ve been very grateful to them for what they’ve come up with, some different solutions, different things we can add to our spray tank that will help keep the tree from getting it.”

He added that an important reason for adding these pests to the list of regulated species is “to just raise the awareness, so everybody kind of understands it is a problem, then hopefully everybody will be treating the problem so we can lower the rates.”


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