On Monday, August 22nd, 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture released a warning stating that a new pest, the crocapillar, had been identified in the backyard of a San Luis Obispo residents home. The owner of the home, James Henderson, said he was shocked to find the creature burrowed inside an apple he had picked from a tree in his backyard. “I was looking forward to enjoying my first [apple] harvest of the season when I noticed a half rotted apple with a tail hanging out of it,” said Henderson. “I’m used to seeing lizards around here, but I’ve never seen them eating my apples.” Mark Maguette, profesor of biology at UC Berkeley says the find may be the start of an outbreak far worse than the dreaded apple moth. “The crocopillar was first found in 1986, in the Aomori province of Japan,” stated Maguette. “By 1987, there was a crocapillar outbreak that devastated 1,000’s of acres throughout that region, and officals were forced to burn down all the affected areas. If we don’t do something about this now, we may see the destruction of billions of dollars worth of California farmland.” The crocapillar looks very similar to the types of lizards you can find in your backyard. However, it is much slimmer, usually no thicker than the width of a pencil, and no longer than 2 inches. The crocapillar has razor sharp teeth which make quick work of the fruit trees that it is known to inhabit. As of now, the crocapillar has also proven resistent to many of the chemical pesticides typically used in California farms. The USDA is urging farmers and homeowners to alert them should any crocapillars be found on their land.

-Morgan McKnight