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Annual hunt for gypsy moths under way

For 35 years the Washington State Department of Agriculture has kept the gypsy moth out of Washington. With the help of nearly 30 seasonal gypsy moth trappers, officials hope that rec-ord continues.

In June 2008, WSDA began its annual gypsy moth summer trapping program, placing more than 23,000 small, tent-shaped cardboard traps throughout the state to identify any new introductions of the destructive pest. Traps are being checked every two to three weeks this summer and then taken down in September.

If multiple catches are made in an area over two years or other evidence of gypsy moth activity is noted, an eradication treatment in the area may occur the following spring.

Trappers are hanging 900 traps in Clallam County, seventh highest of any county in the state.

Mark Church, trapping coordinator for Clallam County, is confident his trappers will spot any new introductions. “We’re hard at work,” he said. “We want to identify infestations when they’re small and then eradicate them. We want to keep Washington the Evergreen State.”

The gypsy moth is one of the worst forest pests ever brought to the U.S. In its caterpillar form, the pest attacks more than 500 species of trees and shrubs, causing millions of dollars of environmental and economic damage across the country each year. The moth is now permanently established in 19 states in the East and upper Midwest. Last summer alone, gypsy moth larvae defoliated more than a million acres of trees.

The number of traps to be placed in each county are: King, 5,500; Pierce, 2,000; Snohomish, 1,500; Thurston, 1,200; Clark, 1,100; Lewis, 1,000; Clallam, Cowlitz and Grays Harbor, 900; Kitsap and San Juan, 850; Whatcom, 800; Skagit, 750; Jefferson; 700; Mason, 600; Island and Pacific, 500; Okanogan and Spokane, 300; Benton and Klickitat, 250; Chelan and Grant, 200; Yakima, 175; Pend Oreille and Skamania, 150; Lincoln, Kittitas and Stevens, 100; Douglas and Wahkiakum, 75; Franklin and Whitman, 50; and Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield and Walla Walla, 25.

For more information on Washington’s gypsy moth control program, call the gypsy moth hotline at 800-443-6684.

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