SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) – The detection of an Asian gypsy moth in the city of Sunnyvale has prompted an extensive survey by the County of Santa Clara Agricultural Commissioner in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The agencies are placing about 2,300 traps over 81 square miles of the county, with 36 per square mile in a 25-square-mile core area around the initial detection site. The traps will be inspected weekly, according to the county’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency.

Early detection of an infestation is important, according to the County of Santa Clara Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, because female Asian gypsy moths can fly up to 25 miles and lay up to 1,500 eggs, which means the moth could spread quickly.

Each Asian gypsy moth caterpillar can eat a square foot of leaves each day and is capable of consuming hundreds of different species of plants. The moths can defoliate trees and shrubs, weakening them and making them more susceptible to disease, according to the USDA.

In addition to local native oaks, an infestation would threaten fruit crops, according to the county environment agency.

The caterpillars also have long hairs that can irritate some people’s skin and cause allergic reactions that last up to two weeks.

The moths were identified by the agency’s coordinated pest prevention system.

Asian gypsy moth eggs can be transported on ships and shipping containers coming from Asian countries and Russia, and they may be found on recreational vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture and other portable items.

Anyone who sees a new or unusual plant or pest in the area can report it online at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/reportapest/.

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