Asian gypsy moths are invading ports across North America. Is this the plot of a campy monster movie? No. It’s reality.

U.S. and Canadian authorities are reporting high numbers of incoming commercial vessels infested with Asian gypsy moth egg masses.

To avoid spreading the pest through North America, once an infestation is discovered on board, the vessel is ordered into international waters for cleaning. Unfortunately, this inevitably leads to delays in cargo loading/unloading, customs clearance, and schedule delays.

Commercial vessels coming into the U.S. and Canada from China, Korea, Japan, and Far East Russia are required to be inspected and certified as free of Asian gypsy moths prior to departure.

While it’s the shipping line’s responsibility to ensure that their U.S. bound vessels are free of pests, shippers ultimately pay the price for a shipping line’s inadequate preparation.

Vessels are at high risk of infestation from May 25 to August 10 in southern Japan, June 1 to September 30 in northern China and Korea, and July 1 to September 30 in northern Japan and Far East Russia.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has photo evidence documenting the widespread nature of this pest problem. See the photos here [pdf].

Image: Lymantria dispar dispar “asian race” female, from Mongolia by Alexander Schintlmeister / CC-BY-3.0

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