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MN Asks for Help Keeping Potentially Devastating Pest in Check - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

MN Asks for Help Keeping Potentially Devastating Pest in Check

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 (KARE TV) ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is asking for help keeping a gypsy moth problem from spreading throughout the state. "I think the best guidance to give anyone is be aware of the pests," said Chuck Dryke, assistant director of plant protection with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Those pests are gypsy moths and they are causing real problems in Lake and Cook Counties in the far northeast side of the state. That's why for the first time, state officials quarantined that area Tuesday. "You want to make sure you don't have any caterpillars on your car or on your boat trailer," said Dryke.

The state is asking tourists and loggers to inspect their vehicles for gypsy moths, as well as any wood they maybe hauling in an effort to stop the spread, which tends to happen near tourist destinations.

Although relatively new in Minnesota, states to the east have dealt with gypsy moths for years. They've eaten leaves off many trees impacting hundreds of thousands of acres. "There was a five year population explosion in Pennsylvania resulting in 400,000 acres of mature oak forest dying off," he said.

Dryke said the dry weather conditions helped fuel that loss in Pennsylvania.

The pests have slowly made their way from Europe across the U.S. where 21 states are already under some kind of quarantine order, including parts of Wisconsin.

Experts report trees can recover from damage caused by gypsy moths, but when it happens more frequently it can be difficult. "We've gotten a lot of calls from people asking, 'what do we do'," said Dryke after the quarantine order was issued.

Dryke is telling people to go the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's website detailing what to look for and how to stop the spread.

He said officials have treated areas to control and slow the spread of the hungry caterpillars, but they most likely will never stop it. 
"Gypsy moths will eventually invade and infest the whole state," he said.
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