- Associated Press - Monday, April 29, 2019

BELLEVUE, Iowa (AP) - Officials are trying to stop the spread of gypsy moths in eastern Iowa’s Jackson County.

The gypsy moth is an invasive species that can cause deforestation as its larvae eat tree leaves, especially oaks.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship directed aerial treatments of designated swaths of land situated west of Bellevue earlier this month to curtail the proliferation of gypsy moths, the Telegraph Herald reported.

Iowa expanded the prioritized treatment areas in 2019 after the state determined the insects were expanding north from other areas with dense moth populations, said Mike Kintner, a gypsy moth outreach and regulatory coordinator for Iowa.

“Last year’s treatment was successful in reducing the number of gypsy moths, but we noted that there was movement northward,” Kintner said. “This year, we’re trying to stop that spread.”

Since the 1870s, the gypsy moth has gradually spread west from Massachusetts. The insect already has a substantial presence in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Northeastern Iowa is now deemed a “slow-the-spread” area. State officials work in those areas to contain the spreading of gypsy moths to a maximum of 3 miles (5 kilometers) per year.

Jackson and Allamakee have been the only counties to undergo treatments this year.

Local environmentalists emphasized the significance of halting the spread.

“They are a species that keeps creeping in,” said Jennifer Meyer, a naturalist with Jackson County Conservation. “We’re trying to get a hold of it before they cause some serious damage to our forests.”

Kintner said Iowa’s treatments have been largely viewed as a success. He noted gypsy moth spreading is unavoidable, adding that more counties could get treatment in future years.

Since gypsy moths can spread by humans transporting them, people camping or hiking in infested areas are advised to inspect themselves and their equipment before leaving, Kitner said.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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