A lot goes through people’s minds as they prepare to move. Getting all items packed and ready to go can be daunting, particularly if you are making a long distance move. With everything on a moving to-do list, there is one more important step to add: checking for gypsy moths. This pest has been responsible for the defoliation of 75 million acres of the United States. In an attempt to prevent further spread of the moths and destruction, the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, requires anyone moving from quarantined areas to check for and kill gypsy moths in any life stage prior to their relocation.
The introduction of the moth on American soil was an accident. In 1860, Frenchman Etienne Leopold Trouvelot came to Massachusetts and attempted to start a silk business. Struggling to find native silkworms in his new home, he returned to France and brought back European gypsy moth eggs. While raising the creatures behind his house, some of the caterpillars escaped. Trouvelot notified local entomologists, understanding the threat the escapees posed to local agriculture, but no action was taken. The first outbreak of gypsy moths struck in the 1880s and has since devastated 19 states and Washington D.C., ravaging forests and shrubbery.
The USDA now asks citizens to assist in preventing the further spread of the moths. By law, homeowners who move from an infected area to an uninfected area must inspect their items and fill out the USDA checklist before moving. This process is easy and can be done on your own, but there are professional inspectors that can be hired to complete the process if you choose. Following the list, check any outdoor equipment like toys, lawn equipment, and patio furniture for egg masses. If any are found, they should be removed from your items and destroyed either in a cup of hot soapy water, or in a sealed plastic bag that is then placed in the sun. Once you have filled out the checklist you will need to keep it with the items in transit. If you have hired a moving company, that means the driver must keep this documentation on hand throughout the move. Officials may request this documentation to verify you have fulfilled this obligation. Once you arrive at your new home it is also a good idea to keep this checklist for a few years in case State officials might need to see it.
Checking for the gypsy moth is a simple task, but its importance cannot be stressed enough. Officials believe that the gypsy moth could defoliate 13 million acres of tress in a single season if infestation is not checked. Utilizing the checklist and other helpful information put out by the USDA can help prevent the spread of this voracious insect.