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Gypsy-moth eradication begins in Tukwila Wednesday on Interurban Avenue
The state will treat gypsy-moth caterpillars Wednesday morning along Interurban Avenue South near Fort Dent Park in Tukwila.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture will treat about 10 1/2 acres from the ground with a biological agent sprayed on trees, shrubs and other foliage that may hide gypsy-moth caterpillars.
This summer, the state will spray a much larger area, about 180 acres, from the air with a chemical agent that disrupts adult European gypsy moths from mating.
Gypsy moths if left unchecked can defoliate entire forests. They are found mostly in 19 states in the eastern United States; the state agriculture department keeps a watch for the moths by placing small green traps that catch adult moths.
Genetic testing shows that the moths found in Tukwila are related to those found in the eastern U.S. They likely arrived in the area on a vehicle or carried in someone's personal belongings.
This is the only effort in the western states to eradicate gypsy moths this year, said Jim Marra, acting pest program manager for the state agriculture department.
"We are a pretty hot state for gypsy moth," he said.
The Tukwila infestation is centered on Interurban Avenue near 149th Avenue South.
Crews will stage in parking lots and side streets to set up their equipment, with includes a hydraulic sprayer mounted on a trailer. Hoses are hundreds of feet long.
Setup begins at about 8 a.m., with spraying to begin at about 9 a.m. This first of three sprayings will take less than a day, Marra said.
The applications are done one to two weeks apart.
The work is weather-dependent, meaning no winds, but Marra is confident the state can do the work Wednesday.
No one will have to leave the area while the chemical is sprayed, but workers may ask people to stay indoors for a half hour or so, he said. Signs will mark where the spraying is occurring and the state may direct people around the area.
Eleven gypsy-moth egg masses were discovered in fall 2012. Marra called the infestation "more severe than most. We think it has been brewing for a number of years," he said.
Twenty-five adults were caught in the green traps.
It's likely the moths have been in the area for several years; individuals adult moths have been trapped in the past.
In July the state will spray an agent called disparlure over about 180 acres from an aircraft in an effort to disrupt the mating of adult gypsy moths.
That area will include a small part of Renton.