Gypsy moth spraying set to begin over Portland - KPTV - FOX 12

Gypsy moth spraying set to begin over Portland

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Male European gypsy moth, that looks similar to an Asian gypsy moth. Photo: John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org Male European gypsy moth, that looks similar to an Asian gypsy moth. Photo: John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Female European gypsy moth, that looks similar to an Asian gypsy moth. Photo: John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org Female European gypsy moth, that looks similar to an Asian gypsy moth. Photo: John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Gypsy moth spray area. (Map: Oregon Department of Agriculture) Gypsy moth spray area. (Map: Oregon Department of Agriculture)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Helicopters will spray insecticide over more than 8,000 acres to keep gypsy moths out of the Rose City.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture's Asian gypsy moth eradication project is set to begin early Saturday morning.  

A helicopter will spray Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, or Btk, which is a naturally occurring bacterium that has been used in other similar projects throughout the U.S. and in Oregon since 1984.

The area that will be sprayed includes St. Johns, Forest Park and Hayden Island. The majority of the treatment area is not over homes, according to the Department of Agriculture, but it does include some residential properties.

A portion of Vancouver will be treated, as well.

Three sprayings are planned, in all.

Each spraying is scheduled to start about 30 minutes prior to sunrise, weather permitting, and should be completed within a few hours.

Those in the affected areas can sign up to receive text messages or phone calls about when the spraying will occur at oregoninvasivespeciescouncil.org. The Oregon Department of Agriculture will also provide updates on Twitter at twitter.com/ORagriculture.

The biological insecticide being used is considered a low-risk pesticide product by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is used regularly on food crops and for insect control.

"Although Btk has an excellent safety record for humans, the Oregon Health Authority, as a precaution, recommends that people stay indoors during spraying and for at least 30 minutes afterward to allow droplets to settle, unless it is essential to be outdoors," according to a Department of Agriculture statement.

Anyone who does feel sick in connection with the spraying should contact the Oregon Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Agriculture officials said three Asian gypsy moths and two European gypsy moths were detected in the area last summer.

The gypsy moth is not native to Oregon and is considered a serious pest of trees and shrubs. Because of the ability of the females to fly, the Asian variety has a tremendous capability of rapidly increasing in population, which could result in the destruction of urban and natural forests, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The eradication project was approved by state and federal officials.

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