There is growing concern about the South American tomato leaf miner, a tiny moth that was accidentally introduced in Spain in 2006 and has steadily moved closer and closer to the United States.READ MORE: Atmospheric River Crashes Onshore; Driving Rains, Gusty Winds, Flash Flood Fears
“The pest feeds on the leaves, the fruit, and the developing flower buds of the tomato. So, your tomato plant either loses all its photosynthetic surface on its leaves, so it can’t make food to make fruit. It burrows into your fruit, where secondary pathogens come in, so you have rotting galleries inside. And when it feeds on the buds of the plant, the plant doesn’t grow correctly, and it doesn’t flower,” Dr. Kris Godfrey, Associate Project Scientist with the Contained Research Facility at UC Davis told KCBS.
Godfrey has seen the damage the leaf miner can cause for farmers.READ MORE: Atmospheric River: Defiant Santa Cruz Mountain Residents Say They Will Ride Out The Storm
“In places like Spain, when it showed up in 2006, they had nearly 80 to 100-percent destruction of their tomato crop,” Godfrey said.
Officials are hoping the public can help them keep track of where the pest is showing up.MORE NEWS: Evacuation Warnings Issued for San Mateo County Areas Burned by CZU Lightning Complex Fire
“We want people to turn in samples to their local agricultural commission office to get them identified,” Godfrey said.