White Satin Moths Invade Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

White Satin Moths Invade Parts of Nevada

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The arrival of a small white moth in Nevada is sparking some big concerns among entomologists and foresters.

"We saw a few of them here last year and this year there's an explosion of them," says Gail Durham with the Nevada Division of Forestry. "We are seeing 100-fold what we saw last year. Which means something has changed. Something is out of balance to allow them to flourish like this."

White Satin Moths feast on Aspens, cottonwoods and willows. You can see the path of their destruction in the tops of the aspen groves at the Spooner Summit State Park. Within a quarter-mile of the turn off, the lower leaves of the trees are laden with larvae nesting and pupating. Just above the leaves in the tree tops are lacy and eaten. 

The White Satin Moth is not native to Nevada and has now been reported across the state in neighborhood trees.

"They are attracted to lights at night. And if you have poplars, cottonwoods and Aspen, well that's their host tree. That's where they'll land and that's where they'll stay," says Nevada State Entomologist Jeff Knight.

A group of entomologists and forest experts from Utah, California and Nevada toured the Spooner State Park are collecting samples of caterpillars, cocoons, moths and the known parasites that generally keep them in check.

"The good news is that we are finding the predators that control them here too. So we hope that they get back in balance again," Durham said. "And we really want people to watch for them. If you see the eggs, the cocoons or the moths please call and report it so we can continue to map where they are showing up."

There is a non-toxic pesticide that can be used to help poison the moths. Durham says she's had about 150 calls or e-mails from people reporting them in neighborhoods since the outbreak was discovered two weeks ago. 

She encourages anyone with damage or who sees the moths to report them. Gail Durham can be reached at (775) 849-2500 extension 241 or gdurham@forestry.nv.gov

Written by Erin Breen   

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