Male Asian gypsy moth. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Male Asian gypsy moth. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Introduction

In 2015, the Asian gypsy moth, a plant-eating invasive species, was detected in Portland’s Forest Park and in St Johns. The moths were found in traps placed throughout the region by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Because there is a national policy to keep gypsy moths from establishing, a regional technical working group was formed to review the situation and create recommendations to Oregon on how to handle the situation. To view the working group report please visit: Report from the Technical Working Group in Response to the Asian Gypsy Moth Captures (Washington-Oregon 2015).

The recommendations include eradicating gypsy moth populations in the area this spring. Establishment of Asian gypsy moth represents an unprecedented threat to forest ecosystems and would result in increased pesticide use, based upon the need of private landowners to conduct ongoing treatments to mitigate damage. Homeowners would also face damage to plants and trees on their property. For agriculture, having to live with gypsy moth would also increase production costs and loss of markets through quarantines on nursery, horticultural, and forest products, including Christmas tree production.

The recommended treatment includes aerial application of Btk, an organically approved product and natural-occurring bacterium that has been used safely and effectively in other gypsy moth eradication projects in Oregon since 1984. The United States Department of Agriculture is currently conducting an environmental assessment through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) to review this recommendation. The environmental assessment requires the public be provided a 30-day period to comment on its findings. It is expected this document will be available for public comment in mid-February.

Two public outreach events are being planned for mid-February, where you can ask questions, receive information, and voice your concerns. Experts from the Oregon Department of Agriculture will be on hand to speak with you.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does a gypsy moth infestation look like?

Check out this video from Hanover Township in Pennsylvania from June 2015:

Read the article here: http://wnep.com/2015/06/05/invasion-of-gypsy-moth-caterpillers/

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE GYPSY MOTH?

The following is an excerpt from Oregon Department of Forestry Gypsy Moth Fact Sheet: 

"The European gypsy moth (EGM) was introduced in 1869 in Massachusetts as a potential silk-producing species. By 1889 it began causing significant damage to hardwood forests of the northeastern U.S. Attempts to eradicate the pest in the 1920's were unsuccessful. 

Between 1970 and 2013, more than 80 million acres of forests were defoliated by EGM in the eastern U.S. Programs to suppress outbreaks and eradicate satellite populations have been successful. A national Slow the Spread program has reduced the westward expansion by 70 percent to about three miles per year. 

Gypsy moth surveys have been conducted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and its cooperators since 1979 using synthetic pheromone trapping. EGM has been detected nearly every year. In 1984, more than 19,000 EGM moths were captured in Oregon in Lane County. Although AGM is not established in the U.S., single AGM moths were found in Oregon in 1991, 2000, 2006, and two AGM moths 2015.

Because of its good record of catching populations early, Oregon has been 100 percent successful in eradicating both EGM and AGM. Today, no quarantines for EGM or AGM exist in Oregon."

To view the fact sheet, visit: http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Documents/ODF%20Gypsy%20moth%20fact%20sheet.pdf

For more on ODF's invasive species program, visit (click on invasives): http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/ForestBenefits/Pages/ForestHealth.aspx

Where is the treatment area?

In Portland, the treatment area encompasses 16 square miles. It includes Forest Park, a portion of Linnton, the St. Johns neighborhood and a portion of the Port of Portland.

To see the treatment area, visit the Oregon Department of Agriculture's treatment area map: http://geo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/SimpleViewer/index.html?appid=6dc1fc36a4834c38a9daef0a9edeae14

how can i comment on the environmental assessment?

The environmental assessment is available on the USDA APHIS website. The public comment period is open Feb 12 until Mar 10, 2016. To submit comments view the document at:  https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/ea/downloads/2016/gm-multnomah-oregon-ea.pdf

You may submit your comments regarding the environmental assessment to: Christopher Deegan, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, 6135 NE 80th Avenue, Portland, OR 97218

or email Christopher.Deegan@aphis.usda.gov or gypsymoth@oda.state.or.us.

An Environmental Impact Statement for all gypsy moth programs (Asian included) was completed in 2012 and is available on the USDA Forest Service website at: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/detail.cfm?id=5251 

What Can I do to help?

1. If you live in the treatment area, share this information on gypsy moth with your neighbors.

2. Sign up for notifications to keep up to date on the program.

3. A post-treatment Asian gypsy moth trapping program will begin in May.  The trapping program is crucial to evaluate the success of the treatment program and to pinpoint any residual gypsy moth populations.  Traps will be placed throughout the treatment area in varying densities. Since the success of the eradication program depends on accurate and consistent trap placement, we invite your cooperation in allowing traps to be placed on your property next summer. To volunteer for traps to be placed on your property, visit:

How many times will btk be sprayed?

According to the resident notification letter sent to residents by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in the spray zone:  

"Aerial application of Foray 48B provides the lowest risk option available, as determined by the science technical working group. Three applications are planned at approximately 7-14 day intervals. The spraying would be done by helicopter, beginning at first light. Approximately 0.5 gallons of Foray 48B would be applied per 1 acre. The first application would take place in late April or early May. The same application procedure has been successfully used to eradicate gypsy moth populations in Oregon and in the western part of North America."

What formulation of Btk will be used?

Foray 48B will be used. To view the product label on the manufacturer's website visit:

http://forestry.valentbiosciences.com/docs/forestry-resources-library/foray-48b-label---usa

Is the treatment safe?

The Oregon Health Authority has an excellent FAQ section on Btk which you can visit here: 

http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/HealthyNeighborhoods/Pesticides/Pages/btkfacts.aspx

Their website discusses the impacts on immune-compromised individuals and how to prepare for the treatment.

An excerpt from their website states: "It is unlikely that indirect exposure to Btk will result in adverse health effects in non-target organisms, including people. People working in occupational settings, directly exposed to Btk, for long periods of time have had mild skin irritation or short term breathing problems. After a thorough review of the toxicity of Btk products, including both active and inert ingredients, the U.S. EPA, Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and many other groups categorize Bacillus thuringiensis as a least toxic method of pest control."


Sign Up For Notification:

To receive information on the public outreach events, environmental assessment, or the treatment please sign up to receive email updates:

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Resources

Asian Gypsy Moth: Threat and Opportunity, prepared by the Oregon Department of Agriculture 

Report from the Technical Working Group in Response to the Asian Gypsy Moth Captures (Washington-Oregon 2015), available on the USDA-APHIS website

Oregon Department of Agriculture Press Release Jan 06, 2016,

World Health Organization's Report on Microbial Pest Control Agent: Bacillus thuringiensis (Btk) 

Oregon Department of Agriculture Twitter page. Check for latest information about the ODA.

 

Poster Banner Art by Chris Hedstrom, biological control specialist and assistant imaging specialist for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.