Gypsy moth eradication set in Western Washington

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OLYMPIA — State officials have proposed a plan to eliminate a destructive pest discovered in two western Washington cities.

The proposal involves treating 180 acres in Tukwila and Renton to extirpate an introduction of the European gypsy moth, which feeds on more than 500 species of trees and plants and reproduces very rapidly.

The treatment program will be carried out this spring and summer.

The first step will treat about 10 acres with a biological insecticide. The second step will treat the entire area in July by aircraft releasing tiny, confetti-sized, pheromone-impregnated flakes.

The synthetic flakes confuse male gypsy moths so they cannot locate female moths to mate with—effectively stopping an infestation, said Mike Louisell, agriculture spokesman.

Traps set last summer caught 27 gypsy moths in the area and entomologists discovered 11 egg masses in Tukwila, indicating a reproducing population is present.

In a release, Louisell said gypsy moths have been detected in Washington every year since 1977, but permanent populations have not been established because of the state’s aggressive trapping and eradication programs.

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