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Gypsy Moth Suppression

Photo of Gypsy Moths.

The purpose of the Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program is to protect contiguously forested areas from gypsy moth damage with priority to residential, forested, and high-use public recreational areas.

VDACS cooperates with local governments and other government agencies, through written agreements, to conduct suppression activities on private and government owned lands.

The cooperative suppression program uses an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to manage gypsy moth. This program is locally based with infested localities determining their own level of participation. Federal and state cost-share money is made available to participating localities.

Important Links:

Gypsy Moth Aerial Treatment Schedule
Virginia Tech Gypsy Moth site

Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Program

Gypsy Moth Suppression Program Guidelines

Questions and Answers:

Why Regulations Are Needed?
If you have lived through an intense gypsy moth infestation, you know the damage these leaf-eating caterpillars can cause. The landscape can look like winter in July as they defoliate trees and shrubs. They will crawl on houses, cars, children's outside toys, picnic tables and make being out of doors unpleasant. They have been known to defoliate up to 13 millions acres of trees in one season.

Artificial Movement of the Gypsy Moth
Recent studies show that most new isolated infestations of gypsy moths have started from egg masses transported by humans. The human, or artificial, movement of gypsy moth life stages, especially egg masses, spreads the moth faster than would naturally and normally occur. Since the female gypsy moth cannot fly, the only natural movement occurs when the wind blows very young larva as they suspend themselves on silk threads in tree tops. Upon mating, female moths will lay their eggs on anything she can crawl to-anything outdoors-axles to wheelbarrows.

Inspect For Gypsy Moth
You are responsible for making sure that your outdoor items (logs and trees, picnic tables, firewood, and recreational vehicles, etc.) don't carry the gypsy moth life stages to new locations. Inspect any article left outdoors or stored outside. You are the key to preventing the artificial movement of the gypsy moth.

How To Identify Gypsy Moth Life Stages
The gypsy moth goes through 4 life stages each year-egg, caterpillar (larva), pupa (cocoon) and moth. In late summer the female moth lays a brown, velvet-feeling egg mass that may contain as many as 1000 eggs. The eggs over-winter and hatch in the spring as caterpillars when the leaves begin to appear on trees. Caterpillars eat leaves for 6 to 8 weeks and are the only life stage that damages trees. In late June adult caterpillars form a pupa and after 10-14 days emerge as moths. The female moth cannot fly and attracts males by emitting a scent. Upon mating, the life cycle begins again as the female lays her eggs near where she pupated. It is the egg mass that is most likely to be moved.

What To Do If You Find Gypsy Moth Life Stages
The most environmentally safe way to dispose of gypsy moth life stages is to remove them by hand, scraping them into a container of soapy water with a putty knife or stiff brush. Always wear protective clothing and gloves.

Quarantines
To help reduce the artificial movement of the moth, Virginia and Federal regulations have established quarantine areas. Areas under quarantine are considered infested with a reproducing population of gypsy moths-the areas are fully infested. Regulated articles, shipped from a quarantined area or state to an area or state not quarantined, must be inspected for the gypsy moth life stages. If life stages are found they must be removed before moving or shipping the regulated article to a non-quarantined area.

What Are Regulated Articles?
The following articles are regulated:

Outdoor Household Articles (OHA'S) include anything kept outside the home such as outdoor furniture, firewood, garden equipment, dog houses, children's toys, barbecue grills and garbage cans.

Log, Pulpwood, Wood Chips, and Bark: basically any forest product with bark on it.

Mobile Homes, Recreation Vehicles, etc., designed to serve, when parked, as a dwelling or place of business, along with associated equipment.

Nursery Products, Including Christmas Trees: all trees with or without roots and shrubs with roots and persistent woody stems, unless greenhouse grown throughout the year.

Any Product, Article, or Conveyance near gypsy moth life stages that, if moved, presents a high risk of artificially spreading the moth.

How Do These Regulations Apply To Me?

Household Moving. Planning to move from a state or region infested with the gypsy moth to a state or region that is not infested? Moving your camper or recreational vehicle across state lines? Ask your moving company, or your truck rental company if moving yourself, for Don't Move Gypsy Moth, (Program Aid No 1329), USDA/APHIS. This publication provides the information you need to be able to inspect your OHA's yourself or how to obtain the services of a licensed Qualified Certified Applicator (QCA) to do the inspection for you. Click http://www.hungrypests.com/YourMoveGypsyMothFree/ to obtain a copy of the self-inspection checklist. Remember the checklist must accompany your household shipment to avoid problems if your truck is stopped for inspection en route.

Forest Products. Are you logging trees in a section of Virginia subject to the quarantine? Are you shipping forest products from an area quarantined to one that is not? If so, you must call the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' (VDACS) Slow the Spread of the Gypsy Moth Office at 540 394 2507 to see if you need a Compliance Agreement for your business. Compliance Agreements allow you to self inspect your forest products for gypsy moth life stages. At a short training workshop you will learn the life cycle of the gypsy moth and how to treat any life stages you find on your trees. With a Compliance Agreement you will be able to certify that your forest products are free of gypsy moth life stages and that you are not spreading this forest pest.

Nursery Stock and Christmas Trees. Are you growing Christmas trees for sale outside of the quarantine area? If you are, you must call the nearest VDACS office (in the blue pages of your telephone directory to see if you need a Compliance Agreement for your business and the same procedures apply as for Forest Products.

Mobile Home or Office Mover. Are you in the business of moving mobile homes or offices out of the quarantined area? If so, you must call the VDACS Slow the Spread of the Gypsy Moth Office at 540 394 2507 to see if you need a Compliance Agreement for your business. If you need a Compliance Agreement and are not a Qualified Certified Applicator, at a short training workshop you will learn the life cycle of the gypsy moth and how to treat any life stages you find on mobile units. With a Compliance Agreement you will be able to certify that your units are free of gypsy moth life stages and that you are not spreading the moth.

Other Products. If you are transporting other outdoor products, from guardrails to rocks, you may need a Compliance Agreement to insure that you are not spreading the gypsy moth. Call the VDACS Slow the Spread of the Gypsy Moth Office at 540 394 2507 to see if you need a Compliance Agreement to transport your product.

Contact Information:

The information presented here is meant to serve as an initial reference for those wishing to learn about gypsy moth regulations.

The VDACS Office of Slow the Spread of the Gypsy Moth is located at 1580 North Franklin Street, Christiansburg, VA 24073
540.394.2507, FAX: 540.394.2514
E-mail: gypsymoth@vdacs.virginia.gov

Please contact the STS Office for detailed information about the gypsy moth and how it is regulated in Virginia. The Virginia laws governing the gypsy moth can be found in VA 3.1-188.20 (1950, as amended) and United States Code at 7CFR301.45.

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