Pest & Weed Management
The County Agricultural Commissioner is charged with the responsibility of managing nuisance pests of agriculture and of human health. A cooperative agreement between the County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides for one Animal Damage Control (ADC) Specialist for non-domestic pest management in Butte County. Among the many vertebrate pests controlled the most common are skunk, opossum, raccoon, and beavers complaints, but many coyotes, bear, and mountain lion complaints are responded to each year by the ADC Specialist.
The Agricultural Commissioner's department also works with the CA Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and USDA to develop the use of effective biological controls for use on troublesome pests of agriculture. Seven different biological control organisms have been released throughout the county to help in the control of such bothersome pests such as:
- Puncture vine
- Yellow Starthistle
- Ash Whitefly
- Purple Loosestrife
- Klamath Weed
- Italian Thistle
Weed species under eradication include Spotted Knapweed, Dyer's Woad, Skeleton Weed, and Japanese Dodder, and are all very serious weed pests if left uncontrolled. Biological, chemical, and mechanical methods are utilized to eliminate the most serious of these weed pests. Several other weed species are under constant surveillance to keep them under control and prevent their spreading.
Butte County is involved with a proactive program to primarily detect insect pests before they become established. Traps are monitored throughout the entire county for the presence of any exotic pests of agriculture, such as:
- Mediterranean fruit fly
- Oriental fruit fly
- Melon fruit fly
- Gypsy moth
- Brown Apple moth
- Japanese beetle
- Khapra beetle, etc.
These insect pests have an enormous host range and are difficult and costly to eradicate once they become established. Through early detection, this program is protecting more than agriculture. The environment is protected by limiting the need for more pesticide applications. The quality of produce is higher when exotic pests are detected early and prevented from becoming established as common pests. Consumers are protected from rising food costs as production expenses are less.
The Pest exclusion program provides protection to the county through regulatory control through the use of quarantines to prevent the introduction of pests, which are not known to exist or are of very limited distribution within the county. Last year over 9,800 inspections were conducted at various locations in the county checking incoming plant material for cleanliness. Many harvested crops are exported to foreign countries. Phytosanitary certificates are issued declaring the commodity shipments meet the pest-free requirements of these other countries. Seed fields are inspected during the growing season to maintain a high standard of cleanliness for export.
Winged Water Primrose
Winged Water Primrose (Ludwigia decurrens, WWP) is a non-native weed that was first identified in Butte County rice fields in late 2011. In early 2016, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Plant Health reclassified WWP from a "Q" (uncertain status) rated pest to an "A" (detrimental to agriculture) rated weed pest and a "P" (prohibited) rated seed pest. These ratings have the potential to impact certified rice fields and the movement of seeds as well as the export of rice to other countries.
Given the seriousness and potential economic and/or environmental detriment WWP poses, the Butte County Agricultural Commissioner's Office alongside Butte County Cooperative Agricultural Extension, California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, Butte County Rice Growers Association, and many other local landowners, have joined forces to help manage and control the current distribution of WWP and ultimately eradicate the pest in the near future.