Invasive moth spreading through Nevada

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Invasive moth spreading through Nevada


Agriculture and forestry experts in Nevada are concerned about a growing number of small white moths, known as white satin moths.


The non-native moth has been in the West for sometime, and last year a handful of sightings were reported in the Washoe Valley and around Tahoe. But this year, Gail Durham, who's with the Nevada Division of Forestry, says suddenly she was getting reports of them all over the place--from Elko to the east shores of Lake Tahoe, and as far south as Topaz Lake.

She says they're watching out for the feeding period during next spring.

"When the leaves emerge next year, you'll really want to watch for that, and see if you're seeing the caterpillars of this moth starting to heavily feed on your leaves. They will take them down till there's nothing left, but maybe a midrib of the leaf. "

At the moment, Durham estimates the number of white satin moths is up anywhere from 50 to 75 fold from last year. They nest in aspen, cottonwood and willow trees, especially in mountainous areas. Durham recommends a certain bacterium that can be sprayed on leaves when the caterpillars are feeding and will kill them as they eat the leaves.

The good news is experts who've studied the moth near Lake Tahoe this month found signs that natural predators are making a rebound and should help keep the invaders in check.

More information on the moth and how to protect your trees (on the last page) can be found here, courtesy of the University of Wyoming and Nevada Division of Forestry.