Workers are preparing to set nearly 18,000 traps for gypsy moths across Minnesota this spring. It's part of an annual survey to slow the spread of the destructive pest and helps the state stay ahead of it.
The traps are to count gypsy moths, not to kill them. If a certain number are caught, workers will look for eggs and other life stages and then decide whether treatment is needed.
Gypsy moths have defoliated 75 million acres in the U.S. since 1970. Workers are treating 145,000 acres in northeastern Minnesota with a natural pheromone that interferes with reproduction.
The state is also conducting a pilot survey for five other, similar pests, concentrating on Duluth and the Twin Cities, said Michael Schommer, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture spokesman.
"The bad news is there's a bunch of other pests out there that would love to get into our forests, so what we're trying to do is look at these other pests that might be out there," Schommer said. "We don't have any indication that those pests in particular are in our forests or urban landscapes right now, but it's certainly a good idea to start looking for them to the extent we can. And if we do find something then we'll be able to respond that much quicker."
So far the state has stayed ahead of the gypsy moth invasion, Schommer said, but people can help, largely by not transporting firewood. Schommer urges people to buy firewood where they use it, because moving infested firewood is a prime way to spread the pest around.
"Anytime we're moving firewood, there's a chance that wood could be infested with gypsy moths, emerald ash borer, a number of other pests," he said. "Definitely, we encourage people to buy firewood where they're going to use it."