Commissioner Steve Troxler: Slow the Spread Gypsy Moth Program is Working

North Carolina is seeing some positive results from its Slow the Spread Gypsy Moth program. Captures of gypsy moths in 2018 continued to decline, indicating a less active population.

  • It seems like we have had a lot of negative things to talk about in recent months, so I thought I’d share some positive news for a change about the success of the Slow the Spread Gypsy Moth Program in the state.
  • Gypsy moths were first found in North Carolina in 1988 in Currituck and a part of Dare County.
  • At the time, a quarantine was put in place regulating the movement of certain items that could potentially spread this pest. Now, 30 years later, we do not have any other counties quarantined or considered infested by gypsy moths.
  • Gypsy moths are bad bugs. This invasive insect is considered the worst pest of hardwood trees in the Eastern United States. The gypsy moth caterpillars can completely strip a tree of its leaves, eventually weakening and in some cases killing the tree.
  • In an effort to keep this pest from spreading, North Carolina has participated in the Slow the Spread Program, which includes trapping for the pest and follow-up treatments where thriving populations are found.
  • In 2018, the trapping program turned up 594 gypsy moths, which is down significantly from the 2017 total of 1,613 moths. The 2016 total was 7,235.
  • I hope we continue to see this continued downward trend.
  • In looking at the location of the positive traps and moth pressure in other areas of the U.S., we are looking at treating just one area of 1,231 acres in Surry County this year near the Virginia border.
  • Last year, we treated five areas for the moth. The treatments are targeted specifically at gypsy moths using a mating disruption product. It is applied aerially by plane, and is safe for non-target organisms.