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    Root Weevil Found In Southeast LB Prompts CA Agriculture Agency To Declare Plant/Soil Quarantine Zone

    (Nov. 2, 2005, updated Nov. 3) -- The CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has designated a 1.5 square mile area of southeast LB as a "quarantine zone" -- to regulate the movement of plants, green waste and soil from the area -- after finding Diaprepes root weevils at 14 locations in LB's Spinnaker Cove area south of CSULB.

    In a written release, CDFA describes the insect as "an exotic pest that threatens more than 270 species of plants." It adds, "Diaprepes root weevils are native to the Caribbean, have generally infested Florida and have also infested a part of Texas. Adult weevils feed on the leaves of plants and their larvae plunge underground and feed on plant roots.
    Photo source: University of CA Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources publication 8131, Diaprepes Root Weevil

    CDFA says that left unchecked, the pest could damage urban and rural landscaping, the nursery industry, and significant portions of California's fruit and vegetable output, including citrus, a favorite of the pest. It says disposal options for green waste are currently being evaluated...and it's also "evaluating options for management of the Diaprepes root weevil population." It may take "3 to 5 years to eradicate the pest," the agency says.

    [update] CDFA says its quarantne zone against the Diapredes Root Weevil, its hosts and possible carriers runs from from 7th St. @ PCH, southeast along PCH to E. 2d St., west on E. 2d St. to Park Ave., north on Park Ave. to 7th St., then east on 7th back to PCH.

    The agency says in a written release, "The quarantine zone...has been established to regulate the movement of plants, green waste and soil from the area. Disposal options for green waste are currently being evaluated."

    Translation: CDFA spokesman Steve Lyle says the major concern is green waste, and the agency is working with landscaping firms that service the southeast LB area to ensure they know they should dispose of it and handle it in certain ways so it doesn't get moved elsewhere (except to a landfill or dump).

    Mr. Lyle says that if homeowners in the quarantine zone are having landscaping or the like done, or have plans that might generate green waste, to contact CDFA (1-800-491-1899) and they'll help in advising how to handle it (specific recommendations are currently being worked out).

    And even if you're not in the quarantine zone, CDFA would welcome the public's help in keeping an eye out for the root weevils. Since the weevils have been found in a non-configuous area -- Newport Beach, 18 miles from Long Beach -- the agency is concerned about where else they might be.

    If you do gardening at home and spot something that looks like the root weevil like the one in the photo above, call CDFA at 1-800-491-1899 and let them know...and they'll appreciate it. Diaprepes root weevils are black with distinctive orange, yellow or gray markings on their backs.

    A publication from the University of CA's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the Diaprepes Root Weevil says the pest was "accidentally introduced into central and south Florida in 1964 in an ornamental plant shipment from Puerto Rico...Since then, it has spread throughout Florida, where it sometimes causes serious damage to citrus trees. In addition, it poses a threat to many ornamental plants and a number of other agronomic crops such as papayas and sweet potatoes. In 2000, Diaprepes became established in a mature citrus grove in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas...Diaprepes has been intercepted a number of times in California since 1974 in shipments of plants, in truck trailers, and in the cargo holds of aircraft. The weevils found in these interceptions were destroyed. However, the risk of introduction and establishment of this weevil in California is high because of the high volume of host plants brought into California."

    The insect "feeds on more than 270 species of plants from 59 plant families...Some of the more common hosts are citrus (all varieties), peanut, sorghum, guinea corn, corn, Surinam cherry, dragon tree, sweet potato, sugarcane, panicum grasses, coffee weed (sesbania), and Brazilian pepper. Because of its broad host range, the Diaprepes root weevil poses a great threat to citrus and ornamental plant industries in California."

    In early October 2005, CDFA announced a diaprepes weevil infestation in Newport Beach and declared a three square mile quarantine zone that includes the northern and eastern parts of Newport Beach and the southwest corner of Irvine. The agency says it's unknown if the NB and LB infestations are related...but it's surveying for the pest in LB, NB and a number of communities in between.

    For more information, check CDFA's web site ( and to report suspicious bugs, call 1-800-491-1899.

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