- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - State officials have collected actively reproducing female gypsy moths for the first time in four decades.

The Department of Agriculture said Monday that trappers and others found an unusually large number of the destructive leaf-eating pests in the Puyallup area after putting thousands of traps this summer. In all, trappers collected 100 females, most of which were actively laying eggs.

The agency’s pest program manager, Jim Marra, says officials will be able to remove the infestation and prevent the eggs from hatching.

It’s likely the agency will propose a project to eradicate the pests next spring in an effort to prevent them from becoming permanently established in the state.

The insects defoliate shrubs and trees and can make forests more vulnerable to other problems. They have caused serious tree damage in other regions, including New England.

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