Moth hunter in the vineyards of Napa

There goes one!  Stop it from procreating!  That fucking moth could be the end of us all!

Napa Valley is under siege.  And I don’t mean from gas-guzzling Escalades zipping up and down Highway 29 or from elite Parisian special forces who’ve been sent to steal trade secrets from Mondavi.  No, my friends, by a simple moth known as the European Grapevine moth.

But in the lucrative world of wine, this predator is being hunted down with a vengeance by the brightest agricultural minds the world has to offer.   And how this moth came to be found in the heart of Napa may be the dirtiest secret of all…

Just like the jihadists being hunted by the Green Beret’s night-vision goggles and unmanned drones flown out of Nevada with predator missiles, no resources are being spared to wipe out this pin-headed foe.

Moth larvae feasting on Napa's finest

Last week, a crack team of European entomologists arrived in Napa County to join forces with their American counterparts and share what they’ve learned in fighting this predator in France, Italy, Germany and Chile (regions where the European Grapevine Moth has been waging war on valuable wine grapes for years).

So, what’s at stake?  Well, a whole lot actually.  Considering the moth was first discovered last September when it devoured an entire 9-acre vineyard of the finest grapes Napa has to offer, no one is taking chances in letting it fly into their precious crops and start dropping it’s eggs like bunker-busters over Iraq.

Estimated retail value of California wine sold in 2009 was $17.9 billion, so no one is sitting back idly while this little fucker has its way with their checking accounts.

How do we stop this winged dimwit?  First, you’ve got to figure out how many moths you’re dealing with and how far they’ve spread (using traps strategically spread throughout the region).  Then, you corner them and destroy them.  Be it with sprays, predator pests or pheromones that disrupt their mating cycles (yep, right in the kisser…er…the pricker), the scientists are hard at work.  And even the organic and sustainable farmers are considering losing their low-impact designations to wipe this enemy out.

So just how did the European Grapevine moth end up in Napa so far from home?  Well, that just may be the irony of this whole affair.  As winemakers wait in anxious fear to see if the traps in their vineyards detect a moth in their midst, the finger-pointing has begun to find the culprit who introduced it.  And it just may be their greedy neighbors next door…

“Suitcase smuggling” is the term for illegally bringing vines into the country and is the term that no one wants to admit but all fear could be the cause.  According to the Chicago Sun Times, sneaking in cane-cuttings to clone vines from top French vineyards has been dabbled in time and time again, and is thought to have created some of the most exceptional vineyards in Napa in the 1980’s.  All it took was a pair of trusty shears, a backpack with some hidden pockets and the desire to replicate greatness an ocean away by any means necessary.  Why let your imported vines sit in USDA quarantine for years awaiting approval when you can sneak the cuttings into the country in your jock strap?

In a world where an acre of top fruit can sell for more than $15,000, can greed and deceit by Napa’s own be at the heart of this outbreak?  It’s anyone’s guess at the moment and, in actuality, we may never know…

In the meantime, the fear abounds and the investigators and moth assassins are hard at work.  Watch your back, mothy poo.  They’re gunning for you.

Target acquired: Operation Moth Annihilation activated


2 Responses to “The Moth-Hunting Special Forces Arrive in Napa”

  1. Andi Hare says:

    Great article! Got my interest right away, was funny & informative. Good job! Good luck hunting moths…
    Andi Hare

  2. Right on, Andi, thanks. Getting out my moth spray mister and hopping a flight to Cali now.

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