Douglas County goes into Spongy Moth quarantine after infestation

The first new county added to quarantine since 2021
Spongy Moth Caterpillar
Spongy Moth Caterpillar(State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection)
Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 4:15 PM CDT
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MADISON, WI. (Northern News Now) - An invasive insect from Europe is now established in Douglas County.

Spongy Moth is an invasive pest that has been spreading westward since its introduction to North America.

The Spongy Moth used to be called the “Gypsy Moth”.

The caterpillars feed on the leaves of many species of trees and shrubs, especially oaks, and can cause severe leaf loss when feeding in large numbers.

Spongy Moth quarantine has the greatest impact on plant nurseries, Christmas tree growers, loggers, and sawmills.

The moth was discovered in Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) traps.

Due to this infestation, the county has been placed under state and federal spongy moth quarantine.

Businesses must enter into a compliance agreement with state or federal plant regulatory officials certifying that their nursery stock and wood products are free of spongy moth before they can be transported into non-quarantined counties or states.

People living in a quarantined county should be careful when moving outdoor items.

There is a risk of spreading spongy moths when transporting items like patio furniture, campers, boat trailers, or firewood.

“If you are going camping or heading to your cabin, check your gear before leaving to be sure you aren’t carrying spongy moth egg masses or caterpillars with you,” said Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau at DATCP. “This is very important if you’re headed to areas in far western Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa where the spongy moth population is low. A county can be infested without showing immediate damage and it is on all of us to practice diligence to keep this invasive pest from damaging more of our plants.”

Spongy Moths can lay egg masses on nearly anything kept outside, and a single egg mass can contain up to a thousand eggs.

Douglas County now joins most of eastern and central Wisconsin, which has already been considered to be infested with the pest.

This is the first time that a new county has been added to the quarantine since 2021.

Currently, there are 53 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties in the spongy moth quarantine.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture say it’s important to remember the quarantine restrictions even though you may not notice widespread tree damage in the quarantine area.