(May 8) The California Department of Food and Agriculture and its ally in the fight against the light brown apple moth, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have escalated their efforts to contain the pest.

The state agency established 182 square miles of quarantine in eight Northern California counties: Marin, Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. The federal agency implemented restrictions on movement of products from California and Hawaii to other states.

The federal regulations require visual inspection and free-of-pest certification of potential host plants and products that have been stored within 1.5 miles of apple moth detection. The regulations include cut flowers and greenery.

California officials may have learned where the apple moth got its foothold. The number of moths trapped in Santa Cruz County exceeded 1,300 by the week of April 30.

“It appears the moth has been in a condensed area of Santa Cruz County longer than anywhere else in California,” said Jay Van Rein, a spokesman for the Department of Food and Agriculture. The number of moths trapped in the other seven counties totaled 257, he said.

The light brown apple moth, which could threaten many of California’s major crops, was discovered for the first time in North America Feb. 27 in Berkeley, Calif. A native of Australia, the moth has infested New Zealand, parts of Western Europe and Hawaii.