Coast Guard, Customs agents bugged over moth invasion

SEATTLE – Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection members discovered some unwelcome stowaways aboard a cargo ship from Japan Saturday.

Five nests of Asian Gypsy Moths were discovered aboard the motor vessel Orto during a search by the Vessel Boarding and Search Team from Coast Guard Sector Seattle and Customs agents. U.S. Customs and Border Protection members were alerted to the presence of the moths by Russian authorities after the vessel had been searched and cleaned in Japan.

The ship’s cargo will be inspected as it is unloaded to ensure it is free of Asian Gypsy Moths. The Orto will be monitored until it departs the Port of Tacoma on Sept. 20.

Asian Gypsy Moths are pests that can wreak heavy damage to deciduous trees. They often reach North America by nesting aboard vessels hidden among cargo. Once the moths escape into the wild, they are capable of weakening trees by stripping them of growth, ultimately, killing them. This deforestation destroys habitats, alters forest composition and causes loss of property value. The loss of urban trees can also cost taxpayers when the trees need to be replaced or sprayed.

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