|Asian gypsy moth
It's Asian gypsy moth season again and U.S. border officials are trying to prevent the pests from entering the United States, where they could pose significant danger to forests and crops.
Customs officers at the Port of Tacoma intercepted four gypsy moth masses within a four-day period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
On July 6, CBP agriculture specialists discovered an egg mass on a container vessel that had arrived from Japan. Another vessel from Japan had egg masses on three decks. CBP was tipped off by Japanese authorities that gypsy moth eggs were on board the second vessel.
CBP said all egg masses were removed and the affected areas were treated to kill any remaining eggs.
The voracious Asian gypsy moth can eat the leaves of 500 different species of trees and plants. Catching the moth early is critical because the female moth can fly up to 25 miles.
U.S. and Canadian officials have reported progress the past three years in containing the spread of moths on vessels at ports of origin. They have mounted education campaigns for seafarers to be on the look out for moths. Tighter certification requirements for vessels by international agriculture departments and traps set up in and around ports, are also helping to lower the number of interceptions.
The greatest risk of vessel infestation in Japan, China and Korea is from June through October, when gypsy moths take flight.
In fiscal year 2010, CBP officers found live egg masses on two vessels, compared to six in 2009 and 18 in 2008.
In some cases, infestations have been so severe that vessels have been turned back to international waters. - Eric Kulisch