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Gypsy moth eradication successful; no spraying in 2017, WSDA says

In this 2007 file photo, a gypsy moth caterpillar crawls along partially eaten leaves of a tree. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)
In this 2007 file photo, a gypsy moth caterpillar crawls along partially eaten leaves of a tree. (Mel Evans / Associated Press)
By Andrea Haffly Peninsula Gateway (Gig Harbor, Wash.)

The Washington state Department of Agriculture (WSDA) announced Monday that the aerial spraying eradication for Asian and European gypsy moths earlier this year was successful and no spraying will take place in 2017.

Aerial spraying for the moths took place in Gig Harbor and the Puget Sound in spring and included about 10,500 acres in Western Washington, which was sprayed with Btk – Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki – a biological insecticide that targets caterpillars and is registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency.

The WSDA placed 30,000 traps in the summer and caught 25 European gypsy moths. Follow-up searches did not find any established populations of the pest.

Of the more destructive Asian gypsy moths, none were found this year and no moths were found in the treatment areas.

“This spring’s treatment results are very encouraging,” WSDA director Derek Sandison said in a release. “The community support for this work continues to help protect our environment from this destructive pest.”

Both moth species are highly destructive to vegetation and present a serious environmental threat. The Asian gypsy moths are considered more concerning, not only because of their ability to fly and more easily increase its population, but also because it eats a wider range of foliage, including evergreens.

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