Monday, August 26, 2002

Spotting a Sharpshooter

The costly glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca coagulata), an insect native to the southeastern U.S., continues to spread through California, and has now made its way to Sacramento. Since the sharpshooter prefers to feed on grape vines, they are considered a major threat to the California wine industry, but not because they are doing direct damage to the vines. It turns out that these insects are very effective transmitters of Pierce's disease, caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. There is no cure for Pierce's disease, which clogs the tissue that transmits water and nutrients through the plant, so infected plants must be destroyed.

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