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Egg mass of 'highly destructive' Asian Gypsy Moth found on coal ship at Port of Baltimore

Posted at 1:44 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 13:48:12-04

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture found an egg mass of the highly destructive Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM) on a coal ship at the Port of Baltimore.

Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists inspected the M/V Mondial Sun and discovered the egg mass under a hatch door.

The vessel, which arrived from the United Kingdom to take on coal, previously called on ports in China and Japan during the summer of 2019. Ports in Asia are high-risk ports for AGM. The M/V Mondial Sun departed Baltimore on March 24 to go to Japan.

CBP agriculture specialists removed the egg mass and treated the affected area with a pest spray oil. CBP submitted the specimen to the local United States Department of Agriculture pest identifier, who reported the egg mass as Lymantria dispar asiatica/japonica, the highly destructive Japanese gypsy moth.

AGM is one of the most destructive insect pests in the world. They are not known to occur in the United States.

According to the USDA, AGM poses a significant threat to our nation’s forests and urban landscapes as it is known to be extremely mobile – females can travel up to 25 miles per day – is attracted to lights, can lay egg masses that could yield hundreds of hungry caterpillars, and is itself a voracious eater that attacks more than 500 species of trees and plants.

If they would become established here, they could cause serious, widespread damage to our country’s landscape and natural resources.

“While most of the country remains hunkered down against coronavirus, Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists remain on duty protecting our nation’s vital agricultural resources against Asian Gypsy Moth and other highly destructive insect pest invaders,” said Adam Rottman, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore.

CBP agriculture specialists and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspectors have conducted AGM inspection training with AGM high risk countries (Far East Russia, South Korea, Japan, and Northeast China) to help lower AGM risks.