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Why is a yellow card in that tree? Invasive species detection — from the Marin Independent Journal

By James Campbell

Have you ever been out on a walk and seen a yellow panel trap attached to a tree? Maybe you have had a pest detection trap in your yard. Perhaps you are like me and wonder what these things are and who put them there. To get some answers, I spoke with Allison Klein, an inspector with the county’s Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures.

Klein shared that the 611 yellow panel traps placed and monitored around Marin County throughout the year are a cooperative effort between their department and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The pests targeted by these yellow traps are the glassy-winged sharpshooter, which is monitored from March through October, and the Asian citrus psyllid, which is monitored from October through March.

(Note — these traps are placed throughout California and help detect other invasive species, as well, like fruit flies)

You probably have noticed that traps seem to appear or disappear out of nowhere, and that is because they get repositioned during the season to be sure a broad sampling is taken. Typically, a county trapper will knock on the homeowner’s door to let them know they are placing a trap on or near a host plant. If contact cannot be made this way, the county trapper will set the trap in the front yard and leave the homeowner a letter notifying them of the trap placement, the trap type and the location of the host plant. County trappers will never enter the backyards of properties without prior permission from the homeowner. Still, they may place a trap into or near a backyard from a front or side yard access or from a sidewalk.

Klein added that the pest trapping and monitoring that the county conducts with the state is not our only line of defense. The department’s inspectors also conduct incoming plant quarantines. Plant shipments are monitored at retail and wholesale nurseries, aquatic supply stores, FedEx and UPS. Of the 14,287 plant inspections performed in 2022, 108 were rejected.

We must remain vigilant about these invasive pests. It is a matter of when, not if, they will arrive in Marin County.

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