State asks public not to buy gypsy moth traps

Amateur gypsy moth trappers may think they are ridding the state of the voracious insects, but according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, they are more harmful than helpful.

Gypsy moth infestations have been discovered in Southwest near Lake Harriet. Gypsy moth traps, sold in some hardware stores, capture male moths by luring them in with the scent of the female. Females can't be caught because they don't fly.

But one moth trapped in someone's backyard means one fewer moth captured in the state's traps.

Agriculture workers set 15,000 traps across the state and use catch data to locate moth infestation areas. The state's program begins in early June and runs through September. Several years of data determines gypsy moth "hot spots." Information collected throughout the summer also tells scientists whether spraying pesticides in an infested area was successful.

Kimberly Thielen Cremers, gypsy-moth program coordinator for the state agriculture department, says amateur traps "[give] folks a false sense of security that they are helping out. It's pulling data away from our traps and halts our ability to find new infestation sites. But it's really detrimental in a treatment area--if people are purchasing traps, we may think spraying was a success when we really should be treating the area again."

There are no restrictions on selling gypsy moth traps, but the state is asking businesses to voluntarily pull the traps off the shelves, and asks residents to leave the moth traps in the store.