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Great Lakes Article:

Half of Wisconsin's counties in gypsy moth quarantine zone
Associated Press

MADISON -- More than half of Wisconsin's counties are now in a gypsy moth quarantine zone and the rest could be within several years, according to state agricultural officials.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has added seven central counties to the zone, extending from Lake Michigan to the Wisconsin River, raising the total to 39 of the state's 72 counties.

It also marks the destructive insect's relentless westward push across the state. The counties added last week were Adams, Dane, Lincoln, Marathon, Marquette, Oneida and Vilas.

Placing a county under quarantine acknowledges that the gypsy moth population there is steadily increasing despite past efforts to contain it, said Melody Walker, pest survey and control chief for the department.

"When a county reaches the level of gypsy moth infestation where there is a reproducing population in previously treated areas, and we are not able to control it, then the county is added to the quarantine," Walker said.

Under the quarantine, each of the hundreds of plant nurseries, Christmas tree farms, pulp mills and sawmills must be inspected to prevent shipping products out of the area that might be hiding the pest, said Bob Dahl, the department's chief of plant protection.

The European gypsy moth, introduced into the United States in 1869, spreads to several thousand acres of new territory each year in a triangle formed between Maine, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Its caterpillars, which can defoliate large areas if unchecked, prefer to eat leaves of oak, apple, aspen, white birch, basswood, alder and hawthorn.

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