A glassy-winged sharpshooter, one of the grape industry's most feared pests, has been found in Kings County.
The single insect was recently caught in a trap at a home in the northeast Lemoore area. This week, a state lab confirmed it was a glassy-winged sharpshooter -- a bug capable of carrying the vine-killing Pierce's disease.
"This could be a high concern for us, if it turns out more than an isolated find," said Steve Schweizer, Kings County deputy agricultural commissioner.
It's only the second sharpshooter found in the county since 2002.
County agriculture officials suspect that the bug hitchhiked its way into the county on a shipment of nursery plants.
Jimmy Hook, another deputy agricultural commissioner, said county officials have set more traps in the area where the bug was found. No other sharpshooters have been found, but county officials are not resting easy.
"Generally speaking, if there was an infestation, we would have found more sharpshooters," Hook said.
On Monday, county workers canvassed a quarter-mile-square area around the find site, near Hanford Armona Road and 17th Avenue. Hook said people who live in the area were asked to cooperate with officials doing the survey.
If more sharpshooters are found, other steps, including additional trapping or pesticide spraying, will be done.
Although Kings County is not known as a grape- producing area, the county does not want the pest to become established. Kings County grew grapes on 6,259 acres in 2011 for a crop valued at $44 million.
By comparison, Fresno County grew grapes on nearly 190,000 acres in 2010, the most recent report available. Its 2010 crop was valued at $820 million.
To Fresno County officials, the glassy-winged sharpshooter has been a concern for several years. The county routinely traps and sprays to keep the pest from spreading from urban areas to commercial vineyards.
From July 23 through Aug. 19, 548 properties were treated. There are about 186 traps in nurseries, and 890 in urban or residential sites.
Scientists have found Pierce's disease in Fresno County over the years, but it has remained isolated to a few areas, thanks to an aggressive eradication program, county officials said.