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June 22, 2011
STATE DNR ALERTS PUBLIC OF TUSSOCK MOTH CATERPILLAR
Glenn Kohler, Washington State Forest Entomologist
(ANNOUNCER) The Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Forest Health Program wants you to be aware of the Douglas-fir tussock moth, which is a native caterpillar that eats leaves from Douglas-fir trees and true fir trees, such as Grand fir.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure the health of your trees is to immediately report any sign of the moth to DNR or the Washington State University Extension office.
Glenn Kohler, DNR’s forest entomologist, says that the hair on the caterpillars can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Even though kids can be very curious, it’s best to not handle these caterpillars.
(GLENN KOHLER) Cut ONE — 24 seconds Download audio clip at:
“One of our biggest concerns, especially in recreation areas, is that the caterpillar hairs can cause an allergic reaction in some people. So if you see them, and you know they’re tussock moth, I advice you not to handle them. Kids can be really curious because they are pretty caterpillars so just be aware of that. If you are working in an area doing logging or something like that, just be aware that you are going to have a higher exposure to these.”
Kohler states that the Douglas-fir tussock moth can feed on both old and new foliage, so it’s very difficult for the tree to sprout new foliage the next year. As a result, the moths can cause some growth loss to trees. DNR suggests approaches to managing the tussock moth to help reduce the spread.
(GLENN KOHLER) Cut TWO — 40 seconds Download audio clip at:
“There are biological insecticides, like bacteria, that can be sprayed to kill the tussock moth. That may not be necessary in the Spokane area because the damage hasn’t been as severe as in Okanogan County. But also a combination of tree thinning to reduce the amount of Douglas-fir and true fir hosts in the stands and favor pine, which is not a host of the tussock moth. Also, by spacing fir trees more widely, it makes it more difficult for the caterpillars to get from one tree to another.”
(ANNOUNCER) Kohler says the Forest Health Program is working with communities statewide to try and stop the spread of these caterpillars. For more information about this alert, visit DNR’s website at www.dnr.wa.gov and click on ‘Forest Health.’
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Media Contact: Janet Pearce, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator, 360-902-1122, firstname.lastname@example.org