Inslee issues emergency proclamation over spongy moth infestation

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation Wednesday over the imminent danger of an infestation of the spongy moth, which was formerly known as the gypsy moth, in two counties.

The infestation is in the Steamboat Island Road and US Highway 101, Thurston County area (roughly 1,383 acres), and also near the town of Concrete, Skagit County area (roughly 920 acres).

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the spongy moth is one of the worst invasive pests introduced into the United States. 

"The moth is established in over 20 eastern states, where in outbreak years it can defoliate millions of acres of trees and shrubs. If the moth were to establish in Washington, it could have significant impacts on neighborhood trees, parks and forests, as well as the native species that depend on trees and shrubs for food or habitat," officials said. '

The spongy moth caterpillars can eat the leaves of over 300 species of trees and shrubs. They prefer broad-leaf deciduous trees, but can also defoliate evergreen trees.

The infestation endangers agricultural and horticultural industries in Washington state, and could have an economic impact.   

The proclamation directs the Director of the Department of Agriculture to use emergency measures as necessary in the affected areas for the eradication of the spongy moth, which may include the use of aerial spray applications anticipated to commence mid-May 2024.


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