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Vineyard-Killing Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Found In Marin County

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) -- An insect that could devastate wineries and other agriculture was found in Marin County last week, county officials said.

The Marin County Department of Agriculture said a worker found a glassy-winged sharpshooter last Thursday in a nursery shipment from Ventura County.

Up close, the insect looks like a monster, and it acts like one, too - sucking the water right out of your plants.

"It can actually drain two to three hundred times its body weight every day of liquid," said Marin County Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Stefan Parnay.

Like a little vampire? "Yeah! Like a big vampire!" said Parnay.

Even though it was only one insect, inspectors who found the adult female are very worried because the sharpshooter also carries bacteria that could devastate vineyards.

"Which can be transmitted into the plant tissue and cause these deadly diseases that there's no cure for," said Parnay. "Once it gets into a grapevine, the grapevine will die."

Inspectors are now placing insect traps out to see if there are any more in the neighborhood where it was found, and are increasing plant inspections.

"We're especially looking for egg masses," said Parnay.

Homeowners were urged to buy plants only from nurseries that have been thoroughly inspected.

Asking who thinks they may have found a glassy-winged sharpshooter was urged to call the county agriculture department at (415) 473-6700 or (415) 473-4204. Specimens can be taken to 1682 Novato Blvd. in Novato for identification during regular business hours.


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