County of Marin - News Releases - Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

For Immediate Release
October 08, 2015

Destructive Insects Found in Marin, Sonoma Counties

Two live specimens of glassy-winged sharpshooter discovered

Novato, CA – A destructive insect that sucks the fluids out of plants and can wreak horticultural havoc in agricultural areas recently was found in Marin and Sonoma counties during routine inspections of nursery shipments from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

A close-up view of a glassy-winged sharpshooterAgricultural Commissioners Stacy Carlsen (Marin County) and Tony Linegar (Sonoma County) said inspectors captured the nymph glassy-winged sharpshooters on September 29 in Marin and September 30 in Sonoma while checking incoming plant shipments. A viable egg mass was also found on the Sonoma County shipment.

This invasive pest damages a wide variety of plants and spreads lethal diseases to crops such as almonds and grapes for which there are no known cures. Glassy-winged sharpshooters are known to feed on more than 300 varieties of plants, including widely used landscape plants, fruits and vegetables.

“Protecting agriculture and the environment from this serious pest is one of our top priorities,” Carlsen said. “If the glassy-winged sharpshooter were to get established in the North Bay, the potential damage to the wine grape industry, landscape plants and the environment is significant.”   

An adult glassy-winged sharpshooter can drain 200 to 300 times its bodyweight in water every day, the equivalent of a 150-pound adult drinking about 4,300 gallons of water per day. A tree heavily infested with the insect can lose up to 10 to 15 gallons of life-giving fluids per day, requiring a significant increase in irrigation to keep plants healthy.

“This is especially concerning when we remain in a serious drought,” Carlsen said.

The adult specimens were hand-delivered to the California Department of Food and Agriculture entomology laboratory, where they were officially identified. All plants in the shipments from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties were returned to the origin shippers.

The Departments of Agriculture in Marin and Sonoma counties are committed to preventing the infestation of this serious pest. Linegar and Carlsen said local nurseries are very cooperative in notifying their departments about plant material received from areas infested with glassy-winged sharpshooters. “Their support and cooperation has been critical to the ongoing success of our program,” Carlsen said.

The nurseries that received the plant shipments were purposely not disclosed to protect the nurseries from any potential unwanted attention.

Anyone who suspects to have found a glassy-winged sharpshooter is asked to call 415-473-6700 as soon as possible or contact the Marin County Farm Advisor UC Cooperative Extension at 415-473-4204. Specimens can be brought to the Department of Agriculture or the Farm Advisor UC Cooperative Extension at 1682 Novato Blvd., Novato, during regular office hours.

Visit the following websites for more information:


Stacy Carlsen
Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures

1682 Novato Blvd.
Suite 150-A
Novato, CA 94947
(415) 473-6700
Email: Stacy Carlsen
AWM website