The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has added McDowell, Mercer, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties to its gypsy moth quarantine after surveys documented the presence of egg masses. This brings the state total to 44 counties regulated under gypsy moth quarantine.
Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass said the expansion is indicative of the threat posed by non-native species.
“The gypsy moth has caused substantial damage to our forests for years,” Douglass said. “The presence of scattered egg masses in these counties appears to be natural spread. The presence of egg masses, along with documented adult moth catches, qualifies these counties to be regulated under the W.Va. Gypsy Moth Quarantine.”
The gypsy moth is a non-native caterpillar that has become established in most of the northeastern U.S. The insect prefers to feed on the leaves of oak trees, West Virginia’s predominant forest tree, but it has a wide range of hosts, including forest and shade trees and ornamental shrubs. The gypsy moth goes through four life stages — including eggs, larvae, pupae and adults — and can be transported long distances to uninfested areas by humans transporting infested materials.
The quarantine is intended to limit the artificial spread of the gypsy moth by man. More specifically, the quarantine requires an inspection prior to the movement of trees without roots (i.e., cut Christmas trees); trees and shrubs with roots and persistent woody stems (i.e., nursery stock); logs, pulpwood and wood chips; and mobile homes and associated materials. Without an inspection, regulated materials cannot be legally moved into a non-infested area.
Recreational vehicles and travel trailers can harbor egg masses. Owners are encouraged to check underneath them for egg masses before they take them on trips.
A federal gypsy moth quarantine is also in place, but it applies to regulated items that cross state lines. The West Virginia quarantine governs movements among counties within the state.
For more, contact the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Plant Industries Division, 1900 Kanawha Blvd., East, Charleston, WV 25305-0191, or call 304-558-2212. Information about the federal gypsy moth quarantine can be obtained by e-mailing USDA-APHIS-PPQ.Jason.J.Watkins@aphis.usda.gov.