Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Marked moths

Posted By on Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Clarification: I was contacted by Ryan Lockwood with the Colorado State Forest Service regarding this post. It turns out that, yes, help is on the way — but not in the way I implied. Lockwood says that the moths that we've been seeing around here (under our lights and such) are miller moths, not gypsy moths, which, he says, "are not present in the state at all." The traps are placed not to capture masses of moths, but any individual gypsies that "may find their way into Colorado." The Forest Service's goal, Lockwood says, "is to prevent the moths from ever establishing themselves in the state."

Thanks for the clarification, Ryan. And for the rest of you, I did ask him if the Forest Service could perhaps work on some of those other moths. He replied, "As for trapping millers, I think we'd need a lot more traps. Or cats."

- - -

If you've found yourself dodging moths under the light at your front door lately, or wondering how many of the little critters your cat's eaten over the past weeks, help is on the way.

Over the next seven to 10 days, the Colorado State Forest Service will be setting up approximately 100 traps in El Paso County (out of 1,700 statewide) to help reduce the masses of gypsy moths — an invasive species that "is capable of extensively defoliating most deciduous tree species," according to a Colorado State University press release.

The traps specifically target male moths. From the release:

The traps have a sticky interior similar to flypaper that captures male moths lured in by artificial female pheromones; only male moths can be trapped, because the larger female gypsy moths do not actually fly. If moths are captured, a team of CSFS, CDA and APHIS technicians traps the surrounding area more intensively the following year and conducts a thorough search for the presence of moth populations.

No parking for you. Just male moths.
  • Colorado State Forest Service
  • No parking for you. Just male moths.

And a little more for you:

The CSFS sets traps each year in public right-of way-areas, which is why the green objects often can be seen on stop signs and telephone poles instead of trees growing in private yards. More traps are set in densely populated communities and campgrounds, because vehicles coming in from other states allow the moths to hitch a ride into Colorado. In 2009, the project netted three male moths — in Westminster, Commerce City and Pueblo; each capture location was near an area frequented by recreational vehicles, which are known to be a major contributor to the accidental spread of gypsy moths.

Stephens asks that anyone coming across the traps refrain from removing or damaging them. “Lots of traps disappear each year, which compromises our ability to detect the presence of this damaging insect,” she said. “We ask that people leave the traps in place, and call the phone number listed on the trap if they have concerns.”

CSFS technicians also are currently setting larger purple traps for the emerald ash borer, another invasive insect the agency is monitoring in Colorado.

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