Spraying proposed to kill gypsy moths in Western Washington

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File photo/Patrick Oppmann/CNN

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — State agriculture officials have proposed spraying 10,500 acres in Western Washington this spring to kill leaf-eating gypsy moths.

The Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it plans to spray a biological insecticide over seven locations including Kent, Tacoma, Vancouver and Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to kill Asian and European varieties of gypsy moths.

Officials say the insects devour shrubs and trees and can make forests more vulnerable to other problems, and they want to prevent the destructive insects from taking hold. Asian gypsy moths have not been found in the state since 1999.

Aerial spraying of a moth-killing insecticide has been controversial in the past. In 2000, a citizens’ group unsuccessfully sued in King County Superior Court to stop planned spraying in two Seattle neighborhoods.

The agency is doing two environmental reviews and consulting with other local, state and federal agencies before finalizing its plan.