State officials on Monday announced that the northwestern corner of Richfield will be under quarantine until June in an effort to slow the spread of the destructive gypsy moth.
The quarantine, announced by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), covers a largely residential area bounded by Crosstown Hwy. 62, W. 67th Street, and Washburn and Logan avenues.
Under the quarantine, people are restricted from moving trees, branches and other wood outside of the area until June 15. The state plans to treat the area for the gypsy moth in the spring with a biological insecticide.
“Our goal is to go in, do some management and hopefully keep this pest away from the area for many years to come,” said Kimberly Thielen Cremers, supervisor for pest mitigation for the MDA’s plant protection division.
State officials also are asking residents to look for moth egg masses on any equipment, household items, or vehicles that were in the area this summer, the season when the gypsy moth is most active. All it takes to begin an infestation is a single egg mass, which can carry anywhere from 500 to 1,000 larvae.
“Residents should look for gypsy moth egg masses which are brown, fuzzy blobs the size of a quarter,” the MDA said Monday. “They should scrape the egg masses off the item or leave the item where it is.”
The Agriculture Department said it found an infestation of gypsy moths and egg masses in the quarantine area during its annual statewide trapping this summer. Thielen Cremers said someone likely carried the moth into the area.
“They definitely got a ride. They did not come here naturally,” she said, adding that the female moth does not move long distances by itself.
It is illegal to knowingly move the moth outside of a quarantine zone, according to the MDA.
The gypsy moth feeds on more than 300 different types of trees and shrubs and is responsible for millions of dollars in damage to forests in the eastern part of the United States, according to state officials. While the moth doesn’t actually cause the death of a tree, it weakens it and makes it vulnerable to other attacks, Thielen Cremers said.
The pest is common in Wisconsin, and officials have been tracking it in Minnesota since 1973. The state is also monitoring the moth in a couple of other areas, including Winona County.
In 2014, Minnesota declared its first quarantine for the gypsy moth in the northeast tip of the state. The state treated Richfield for the gypsy moth back in 2009 and other suburbs west of Minneapolis in 2011.
The MDA will provide more information about the quarantine during an open house from 5 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the Richfield Public Works Maintenance Facility, 1901 E. 66th St.
Chris Link, operation superintendent for Richfield’s Public Works Department, said the process of removing an invasive species is lengthy yet necessary.
“We’ve done this before,” he said. “The biggest effort is just going to be public notification.”