By ecoRI News staff
As campers prepare for their upcoming getaways, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is urging vacationers to inspect their vehicles and equipment to be sure they aren’t inadvertently transporting gypsy moth caterpillars to and from other areas.
Gypsy moth caterpillars are often found on cars, campers, motor homes, boats, outdoor furniture and equipment. To help slow the spread of gypsy moth to non-infested areas, travelers are being asked to carefully inspect, clean and remove any caterpillars that are found immediately before leaving on or returning from trips.
In an effort to slow the spread of gypsy moth into non-infested areas, the USDA’s Animal Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) has instituted a quarantine in areas where gypsy moth are currently found. This area includes all of Rhode Island, along with other New England and Mid-Atlantic states. Vehicles traveling out of the quarantine area are subject to inspection.
Federal regulations apply to travelers if they leave the quarantine area. However, there are locations within the quarantine area that aren’t currently experiencing a gypsy moth outbreak, and removing any caterpillars from vehicles and equipment will help stop this invasive pest from being transported to non-infested areas, according to DEM.
In recent years, gypsy moth populations have been on the rise due to dry spring weather conditions. Last year, aerial surveys and ground sampling conducted by DEM documented the defoliation of close to 226,000 acres of forestland. An outbreak of gypsy moth in the mid-1980s defoliated 411,000 acres of Rhode Island forestland.