Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation Wednesday of the “imminent danger” of a gypsy moth infestation, just days after scientists found “murderous” Asian hornets in that same state.
According to Inslee, both Asian gypsy moths and Asian-European hybrid gypsy moths pose a threat to Washington.
“This imminent danger of infestation seriously jeopardizes Washington state’s agricultural and horticultural industries and seriously threatens the economic well-being and quality of life for the state’s residents,” the proclamation states.
Authorities plan to spray the area with a bacterial-based insecticide to prevent a large-scale infestation.
What danger do gypsy moths represent?
Moths are capable of severely weakening shrubs and trees, making them more susceptible to disease, the US Department of Agriculture warns, adding that continued defoliation can lead to the death of large sections of forests, orchards, and landscaping.
According to the organism, female moths can lay hundreds of eggs. The young then develop into caterpillars that chew over 500 different kinds of trees and shrubs. Also, because moths can fly long distances, it is inevitable that they can quickly spread across the country.
The University of Kentucky, for its part, notes that gypsy moths are one of the most damaging pests in hardwood forests and the urban landscape. They are responsible for the defoliation of more than 404,600 hectares of forest each year.
Last week, it emerged that ‘killer’ Asian hornets had been found for the first time in the United States. These enormous insects – queens can grow to a length of up to five centimeters – can wipe out colonies of bees in a matter of hours and have stingers long and powerful enough to pierce a beekeeper suit. In Japan, around 50 people die each year as a result of attacks by these hornets.