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Checkmate checked off moth-fighting list

Submitted by on 1, May 26, 2009 – 6:00 am2 Comments

Just got word from the Stop the Spray East Bay folks that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revoked its registration for Checkmate, the pheromone compound that was sprayed over Monterey and Santa Cruz in 2007 as part of the state’s effort to eradicate the light brown apple moth.

The spraying prompted hundreds of health complaints and lawsuits to halt the spraying program, which would have included Alameda. The state ultimately promised it would not spray the pesticide over urban areas.

The action came in the wake of a federal lawsuit filed by the mayors of Albany and Richmond, the North Coast Rivers Alliance and others in order to stop the spraying program.

Per the Stop the Spray folks: “The EPA says other pesticides are available to replace Checkmate, so this is a temporary victory but one that sets a precedent for not granting emergency approval to untested pesticides.”

The Chronicle reported that one of the products tested was Hercon’s Disrupt Bio-Flake, registered by the EPA in January. Per the Chron’s Jane Kay:

Tests on animals for acute effects, but not chronic effects, showed no immediate problems. The pesticide is made with an active pheromone and three undisclosed other ingredients. Hercon must apply for registration in California and undergo an evaluation that could take months.

The spraying was part of a program approved in order to combat the moth, which state and federal agriculture officials feared could wreak millions of dollars’ worth of havoc on California’s agriculture industry. But people in the spray zones complained about what they feared were the potential health effects of the Checkmate spray, which had not undergone the usual safety and environmental tests upfront.

So far, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports having trapped 93,051 moths in 17 counties, including 8,073 in Alameda. The moth, a native of Australia, was first discovered stateside in a Berkeley backyard in March 2007.

Meanwhile, a draft environmental impact report on the state’s eradication program, which now includes the release of millions of sterile moths in order to disrupt the moths’ mating cycle, is due out in June. Stay tuned for more details.


  • Farmer Bob says:

    Nice article:

    1. Moth was actually first noticed in beginning of summer 2006 so we are three years now without any damage from this moth since we noticed it was here and about 50 years NO damage since it actually arrived. We didn't notice it was here cause it did absolutely NO damage and it looks so similar to other moths that already live here.

    2 Tests on the CDFA's next poison, Hercon's Disrupt Bio-Flake, only tested three of the six standard categories for acute (immediate/short term) danger. And because of the synthetic Lepidopteron Pheromone in this product also, it is likely to be as toxic as Checkmate in the other three categories NOT tested, and Checkmate was just revoked in California (after CDFA said it was perfectly safe and sprayed it on 100's of thousands of people). Also, regarding the Bio-Flake, there were NO chronic (middle term or long term) tests done. There were also no tests for Cancer, tumors or hormone interference that affects the ability to have children and produce sperm in males, etc.

    3. Back to aerial spray: look at this press release that shows that the government agencies, that people count on for their expert opinion, made an error of a million times or more in judging the toxic exposure on the people in the vicinity of the spray.



    4. Hercon's Disrupt Bio pesticide is a toxic flake.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    It's the white moths that damage my apples. I follow the Asian example and staple each baby apple in an individual paper bag as I thin them. Keeps then from getting sunburnt too.

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