Learning Early About The Bad Bugs Key To Control Crop Enemies

Oregon is alerted for invasive pests.

Published on: May 23, 2013

Oregon agricultural officials are putting out fewer traps these days to monitor pests which can be a major impact on income.

This year's challenge for gypsy moth detection is budget related, reports Oregon Department of Agriculture Insect Pest and Prevention Program Manager Helmuth Rogg. In normal years, he says, ODA places about 15,000 traps statewide in an effort to be thorough and vigilant against the potentially devastating pest.

Last year, only 8,500 traps were set up, and this year that number will dwindle to 7,000. That total, he notes, is the lowest since ODA began looking for gypsy moths in the late 1970s.

Cutbacks impact not just the search for one pest, but many that ODA tracks. Other traps monitor wine grape pests, grain insect enemies and fruit flies and other pests of the state's tree and vine crops.

No gypsy moth traps have been placed in eastern Oregon for two years. The risk of the insect isn't nearly as great as it is west of the Cascade range, where there is an abundance of deciduous trees and a greater human population that might bring the pest into the state, observes Rogg.

ODA is looking for two types of gypsy moth. The more common European type has been the one most usually found in the state.

The Asian gypsy moth is also monitored, since this one could lead to a rapid infestation, ODA notes.

But only single detections of the Asian type have been found in Oregon near Portland in 1991 and 2000.

"Our colleagues from U.S. Customs and Border Protection have already found Asian gypsy moth egg masses on vessels coming into Portland from Asia, so we know the threat is real," Rogg says.

Since there have been fewer moth catches in Oregon of late, some question the need for traps. However, Rogg argues that the pest could easily be established in the state, and that vigilance is vital.