Gypsy Moth, a non-native, invasive pest that decimates trees is the most damaging forest insect pest ever introduced into North America. This past summer, the Washington State Department of Agriculture trapped 32 European gypsy moths, which is the most caught since 2007. Traps also caught a record-breaking 10 Asian Gypsy Moths. These are far more destructive than the European moths, because they feed on a wider variety of trees and populate at a faster rate.
Gypsy moths have been detected in Washington every year since 1977, but no permanent populations of this destructive pest have been established here due to WSDA’s consistent and successful treatment programs. WSDA will treat several areas in the Puget Sound region this spring to eradicate the gypsy moth introductions that were found.
The gypsy moth caterpillars feed on trees and bushes, killing these plants in neighborhoods, parks, and forests. The pest destroy wildlife habitat and, by damaging protective tree canopies, it can degrade water quality in streams. An infestation can also trigger costly quarantines for timber, Christmas trees and other forest and nursery products.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Four Asian Gypsy Moths were captured in the Tacoma area. The Department of Agriculture’s recommendation is to treat an area of 7,000 acres, which includes portions of the Port of Tacoma, Northeast Tacoma, Fife and Milton. The WSDA will be conducting three aerial sprays via helicopter to eradicate gypsy moth In the Port of Tacoma Area. This will begin in late April to early June. The sprays can be 3-10 days apart depending on different variables such as weather and insect hatch. Areas in Kent, Gig Harbor, Nisqually, Lacey and Vancouver will also be treated.
WSDA’s aerial application sprays will be an organic treatment, Btk, which is approved for organic agriculture and has a proven safety record around people, plants, pets, fish, birds and bees. It has been used for decades as a safe and effective treatment for combatting gypsy moth. Applications would be timed to target gypsy moth caterpillars emerging in the spring as they begin to feed on Washington’s trees.
For more information on the WSDA’s Gypsy Moth Treatment Plan, visit: http://agr.wa.gov/plantsinsects/insectpests/gypsymoth
A segment of 20th Street East in Fife will close to all traffic around the clock for two years starting Monday, March 9. During that time, crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will build a new northbound Interstate 5 bridge over the Puyallup River and a new northbound high-occupancy-vehicle lane, and make other improvements to I-5 between Portland Avenue in Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma Road in Fife.