Pest management isn’t always about getting the right crop protection product on the crop. Sometimes you just need a sign.
Apple maggot, a flying pest that can plague orchards, is a long-standing issue in Washington. Recently, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, collaborating with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and the Washington Department of Transportation, competed a two-year project to install several new apple maggot quarantine signs. The pest, which can spread though transport of homegrown fruit and municipal waste, has never been detected in a commercially packed Washington fruit, and these new signs are part of the effort to continue that track record.
The two-year program included creation of an updated design for the apple maggot quarantine road signs; revised sign placement; removal of old, out-of-place signs; and installation of the new signs.
The new signs in red, white and black were designed to be more eye-catching, with the aim of stopping transport of homegrown fruit, especially apples, from apple maggot quarantine areas into pest-free areas.
Jim Marra, WSDA pest program manager, says that the “largest contributor to the spread of apple maggot is human movement of the pest.” He cites the example of someone from a quarantined county in western Washington bringing infested apples to eastern Washington on a camping trip. The new signs are meant to help stop that movement.
Where are quarantine areas?
WSDA has developed an interactive apple maggot quarantine map online, where the members of the public can enter an address and determine whether they are in a quarantined or pest-free area of the state.
First detected in the state in 1980, the apple maggot spread quickly along the Interstate 5 corridor and throughout western Washington. It also made its way into some eastern counties as well.
Even with that spread, most of the state’s main apple-growing areas have very low levels of pest or remain pest-free. This is due to WSDA trapping and monitoring efforts, and work with local county pest boards to manage the maggot when it is found.
Combined state, local and industry efforts have also kept the apple maggot from ever being detected in commercial apples, which is critical to the Washington apple industry. WSDA notes that if apple maggots were found in commercial apples, it would have devastating impacts on the state’s ability to export its top crop, which is valued at more than $1 billion annually.
You can learn more about the pest by visiting WSDA's apple maggot webpage.