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Oregon awaits the return of the gypsy moth

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It’s been another relatively quiet year for gypsy moth detections, but the discovery of two moths in a single trap in Southern Oregon has caught the attention of state officials:


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It’s been a few years since the state has had a serious gypsy moth outbreak, but what has been found this fall outside of Grants Pass is something to keep an eye on, says entomologist Helmuth Rogg of the Oregon Department of Agriculture:

ROGG:  “That shows us that we are at the very beginning of the infestation. But it shows us also that we have two in one trap, that there is something brewing.”  :10

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Despite the detections in Josephine County, there are no plans to spray for gypsy moth in the area next spring. Instead, additional traps will be placed to see if an infestation has actually established. Gypsy moth spray projects used to be an annual affair:

ROGG:  “Next year will be the fifth year in a row that we have not had an eradication in gypsy moth. We almost have to relearn everything if we get there again with eradication. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when it will happen again.”  :15

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The past few years, gypsy moth detections in Oregon have been historically low compared to the thousands that were trapped in the mid 1980s. But the threat of new introductions remains high as people move to Oregon or visit from infested areas back east and bring the plant eating pest with them, or ships carry cargo from Asia that might harbor gypsy moth eggs. That’s why a robust trapping program by ODA needs to continue. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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ROGG says it’s important to still put up traps throughout Oregon and continue inspecting ships carrying cargo from overseas that may be carrying the Asian gypsy moth:

“This is a big effort for us because the risk is still there and the impact is known– what gypsy moth can do to our forests and to our watershed sites.”  :10

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ROGG says after catching two gypsy moths in a single trap near Grants Pass, the next step is trying to pinpoint the source of any potential infestation. That includes looking for gypsy moth eggs this fall:

“Egg mass searches are always very, very tricky. It’s like looking for the famous needle in the haystack. So we are not counting on it. But the plan for next year is we will have quite a lot more traps in the neighborhood to figure out if that population is indeed reproducing and how far out it has already spread.”  :19

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