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Leek Moth
Leek Moth

Leek moth confirmed in Canton

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A week ago, we heard from Cornell Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy that there was a new pest to watch for in North Country gardens. The Clinton and Essex counties extension office had confirmed the leek moth last year in Plattsburgh. It attacks the onion family -- garlic, leeks, onions and chives and their relatives.
A Canton gardener who'd heard the broadcast went straight to the Canton extension office, with suspicious little caterpillars they'd just found on their garlic. Sure enough...leek moths. Martha Foley has more.

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Invasive leek moths have been confirmed in Canton this week. The moth attacks the onion family--garlic, leeks, onions, chives and their relatives. Steven Van de Mark with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in St. Lawrence County warns gardeners to look out for the pale, yellow-green colored moth.

According to horticulturalist Amy Ivy, the moths create long, skinny damaged areas on leaves called widow pane-ing. "You can kind of see through them," Ivy says. "It looks like a window pane because eat on some but not all of the tissue."

On onions and chives, the window pane-ing appears long and thin. On garlic and leeks, the moth simply chews through the flat leaf, primarily along the spine.

 The leek moth originated in Europe and has been present in Ontario and Quebec since the 1990s. It first appeared in the United States in Plattsburg last summer--and has now made its way to Canton.

Van de Mark says that Cornell researchers are looking into ways to trap the moths to prevent them from spreading. He says the leek moths could provide a serious to threat to commercial growers in part because the bugs are so new here.

"This is an introduced or exotic pest for which we have no labeled controls," he said. Pesticides that address the leek moth in particular are not yet widely available.

Van de Mark says that gardeners who find leek moths on their garlic, onions or chives should bag the moths and bring them into their local extension office.

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