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Light Brown Apple Moth FAQs

What Does the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) Look Like?

In its juvenile stage, LBAM is a half-inch long green caterpillar, and it is a non-stop eating machine. This is the most damaging stage. Adults are light brown, yellowish moths with darker brown markings. Females are larger than males and usually have less distinct markings, but often have a distinct spot in the middle when the wings are closed.

Where was the Light Brown Apple Moth First Found in the United States?

The first detection of light brown apple moth in the 48 contiguous states was in California in 2007.

Where is the Light Brown Apple Moth Currently Found in the United States?

The light brown apple moth is currently found in California and Hawaii. For a map showing states with current quarantines and high risk areas, visit the Pest Tracker.

What Types of Plants Does the Light Brown Apple Moth Infest?

More than 250 kinds of crops and 2,000 varieties of ornamental trees, plants and shrubs are hosts for LBAM. Some of the plants it affects are roses and jasmine, as well as eucalyptus, willow, pine and walnut trees. The greatest damage occurs to food crops. LBAM feeds on most of California's 250 crops, including citrus, grapes, berries, apples, peaches, apricots, beans and pears. In addition, almost any garden or landscaping plant is at risk.

What Kind of Damage Can the Light Brown Apple Moth Cause?

LBAM causes damage by feeding on plants and crops while in its caterpillar stage. The caterpillars eat or burrow into the fruit, vegetable, flower or leaf. Even if the foodstuff is not made inedible, LBAM infestations can ruin the health and wholesomeness of the plant or tree, reducing the production of flowers or fruit/vegetables. LBAM is considered especially dangerous because it can mate, lay eggs, develop and cause damage year-round in milder climates.

Are Quarantine and/or Eradication in Place for the Light Brown Apple Moth?

State and Federal quarantine is in place in multiple counties of California and Hawaii to manage the spread of LBAM. No eradication programs are currently underway. You can see the Pest Tracker for a general overview of the federal quarantines and high risk areas.

What Methods are Used to Control the Light Brown Apple Moth Population?

A variety of methods may be used singly or in combination to eradicate LBAM. These methods include organic treatments, chemical treatments and mating disruption. Mating disruption causes LBAM populations to stop reproducing, and therefore, the moth’s population is reduced over a few generations. For more information on pest management techniques, click here.

What Can We Do?

Do not bring or mail fresh fruits, vegetables, plants or soil into your state or another state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them. Never remove fresh produce from your property when your area is under LBAM quarantine.
It's also important to cooperate with any quarantine restrictions or rules that might be imposed because of an LBAM find in your area, and allow authorized agricultural workers access to your property to inspect fruit and traps for signs of an infestation.