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Invasive gypsy moths caught in northwest Washington, USDA spraying

(Image courtesy of WSDA)

Two spots in northwest Washington will likely be the next ones sprayed with an insecticide to fight an outbreak of gypsy moths, including the Hokkaido gypsy moth, a native to Asia which has never been found in the U.S. before.

The Capital Press reports a Hokkaido gypsy moth was trapped in Woodway, a Snohomish County city near Edmonds. The moths are an invasive species that can damage local forests, oaks and aspens.

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According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the gypsy moth is one of the more destructive pests to trees and shrubs that has ever appeared in the U.S., and they’ve been trying to protect Washington state’s environment from them since the 1970’s.

Why are they so destructive? A few of the numerous reasons include: Evergeen trees can die from just one gypsy moth infestation, the gypsy moth presence can lead to endless caterpillar poop, they have a potential to warm waters and harm the fish population, and they can lay up to 1,000 eggs a year, so they’re difficult to eliminate.

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Every year trappers set up approximately 20,000 to 30,000 traps all over Washington state to monitor for gypsy moth introductions. A total of 14 have been caught this year.

Three hybrid Asian gypsy moths have also been found in Everett’s Boulevard Bluffs neighborhood. The Washington State Department of Agriculture is considering spraying both areas this spring, but will conduct environmental studies before making a decision.

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