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Annual gypsy moth hunt begins

Ian Marsman
Unwanted: The gypsy moth

The summer search is under way across Washington for the gypsy moth, an invasive insect capable of defoliating forests and urban landscapes.

The state Department of Agriculture has hired 25 trappers to place 20,000 small cardboard traps in neighborhoods, business districts, ports and rural areas to nip any infestations in the bud.

The Olympian reports the orange and lime-green traps are scented with a non-toxic synthetic pheromone that attracts male moths.

Inside the trap, a sticky substance snares the moths, helping trappers identify areas where an outbreak of gypsy moth caterpillars could occur next spring.

Traps will be checked every two to three weeks before they're removed in September.

Trappers found 13 gypsy moths last summer, the lowest number since the early 1970s.