N.C. Department of Agriculture officials are monitoring populations of the highly invasive gypsy moth. In their larval stage, the insect is capable of defoliating entire forests. Each caterpillar can consume a square foot of leaf material in one day. Each year, 18,000 to 21,000 traps are set across North Carolina each spring to monitor their populations,
“There’s two different traps you might see," said Allison Ballentine, the program manager for the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Gypsy Moth Program. "One is in the shape of a milk carton and the other one is in a triangle. Basically what we do is we put a lure which is a pheromone that attracts the males that come to the trap and it basically hangs on a tree about chest high.”
The traps are collected and gypsy moths counted in middle to late summer. According to the Gypsy Moth Program website, more than 100 intervention programs have been initiated to eradicate or suppress populations of gypsy moths since the program began in 1982. A quarantine is currently in place in Currituck and parts of Dare County to prevent the spread of gypsy moths.